Recapping the day's news and newsmakers through the lens of CNBC.
Penney's sore lack of leadership
How do you wreck a business as fast as possible? Start with lousy results that get your shareholders up in arms. Then flip flop as you grope for remedies. Go leaderless for a while, then descend into a swirl of backbiting—and be sure to air your dirty linen in public.
That's how the drama has unfolded at once-highly regarded J.C. Penney. In the latest installment, activist investor and independent director Bill Ackman today demanded the board meet as soon as possible and replace chairman Tom Engibous. Ackman, whose Pershing Square Capital Management is one of the retailer's biggest shareholders, says the board is taking too long to name a permanent CEO, leaving Penney's rudderless.
Ackman's voluminous letter unloads a string of peeves centering on the complaint that he and his team have not been kept in the loop and consulted on key decisions.
Others say Ackman himself has become a big part of the company's problem, responsible for creating a public display that has driven the stock down. And one analyst said the dispute over finding a CEO could make a CEO even harder to find.
"What you have is an angry guy going through his temper tantrums. We've seen how [Ackman] can inspire the ire of Carl Icahn and get into a mud throwing spat…akin to Rosie O'Donnell and The Donald. He's capable of the same kinds of things when he's on a board of directors. It's sort of a frat boy affect."
—Jeff Sonnenfeld, Yale School of Management
"Sounds like a great working environment that will surely tempt a quality CEO."
—Stacey Widlitz, president of SW Retail Advisors