Rent-A-Center CEO Mark Speese steps down

Rent-A-Center signage is seen on a truck parked outside its store in Niles, Illinois.
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Rent-A-Center said on Tuesday that its Chief Executive Mark Speese had resigned and would be succeeded by former president Mitchell Fadel, effective immediately, amid the company's plan to explore strategic options.

The rent-to-own furniture retailer has been under pressure from activist hedge funds Engaged Capital and Marcato Capital to sell itself.

In July last year, Marcato argued that an overhaul of the company could be best achieved in the hands of private owners and had threatened to work to throw out board members up for re-election at the annual meeting in 2018.

Speese, who served as CEO for less than a year, departs a little more than two months after Chairman Steven Pepper quit, citing his disagreement with the board's decision to explore strategic options.

Private-equity firm Vintage Capital offered to buy Rent-A-Center for about $693 million in November.