SAN ANTONIO -- Cracker Barrel is in an extended fight with its biggest shareholder, Sardar Biglari. On Monday, Biglari landed another blow, accusing the restaurant chain of misrepresenting the credentials of its incoming chairman.
In a public letter to Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. on Monday, Biglari, said the restaurant was being misleading when, in a letter to shareholders last week, it referred to chairman-elect Jim Bradford as "a former NYSE company CEO."
Biglari said that Bradford wasn't CEO of a public company, but of a private company that had previously been public.
In Cracker Barrel's annual proxy statement, the restaurant said of Bradford: "He previously served from 1992 to 1999 as President and Chief Executive Officer of AFG Industries Inc., which during his tenure was North America's largest vertically integrated glass manufacturing and fabrication company and was traded on the New York Stock Exchange (the "NYSE")."
Biglari said that AFG was taken private in 1988, four years before Bradford became CEO. The Associated Press has confirmed that AFG went private that year.
Biglari asked the board for a full report on how Bradford's credentials were allegedly misstated. He questioned whether shareholders should continue to trust the board.
A spokesman for Cracker Barrel said the company is reviewing Biglari's letter and would respond "in due course."
Biglari owns 17 percent of Cracker Barrel's shares and is the company's biggest investor. He's been waging a long fight with company management, complaining that revenue should be higher and financial disclosures more detailed.
Bradford, the dean of Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management, was supposed to be a fresh new face on the Cracker Barrel board. He joined in 2011, when then-CEO Michael Woodhouse stepped down but remained chairman. Bradford is to replace Woodhouse as chairman next month.
Biglari's San Antonio firm, Biglari Holdings Inc., also owns the Steak `n Shake and Western Sizzlin restaurant chains. Biglari and a business partner are trying to win seats on the Cracker Barrel board at the annual meeting in November. Biglari ran unsuccessfully last year.
Cracker Barrel has said that legal and other issues prevent Biglari and his partner from being suitable candidates for the board.
Shares of Cracker Barrel rose 18 cents to close at $67.47.