A group of dissident shareholders of the data storage company Imation have demanded the ouster of CEO Mark Lucas and the sale of certain assets to bolster shareholder value.
New Orleans-based Spear Point Capital Partners, which owns more than 2 percent of Imation’s stock, is also contacting other shareholders for their support to “make serious changes to the company’s strategy” and “demand results rather than words.”
In its letter to the company board of directors, Spear Point said, “We believe the separate value of the company’s businesses and assets may be significantly greater than the value implied by the company’s market capitalization.”
Spear Point asked the board to “immediately hire an investment bank” to look for buyers for various Imation assets and to sell the company’s corporate headquarters as has been previously stated as an objective of Imation.
In both cases, Spear Point said, proceeds from those sales should be paid to shareholders as dividends. In the absence of a divestiture of assets, Spear Point said, the board should consider selling the entire company.
“The status quo is not working for shareholders,” the investor said.
Lucas also should be immediately replaced in order to “refocus management,” Spear Point said. “Mr. Lucas has simply failed to lead the company to a position of growth and sustained profitability and the market has recognized this failure,” the letter said.
Imation’s chief financial officer Scott Robinson said in a statement that the company “welcomes constructive input toward our shared goal of maximizing long-term value for all stockholders.”
“The Company has engaged in a constructive dialogue with Spear Point and expects to continue to do so,” Robinson said.
The management team has taken proactive steps to position Imation as a global leader in high-security data storage and data security and device management.
This plan has involved a concerted effort to streamline costs, improve gross margins, exit low margin products, invest in data storage and data security solutions, and introduce new secure and scalable storage products.”
Spear Point’s strategy
In general, Spear Point invests in undervalued public companies that it believes can benefit from some sort of strategic shift in focus.
Its co-founder and co-CEO, Ron Bienvenu, also is managing partner of a firm called the Louisiana Buyout Fund, which acquires software companies and moves them to Louisiana to take advantage of that state’s business climate.
The shareholder revolt comes as Oakdale-based Imation struggles with two years of losses and a declining stock price.
Earlier this week, Imation reported a 9 percent drop in revenue for the third quarter following first- and second-quarter declines of 20 percent and 16 percent, respectively.
The company’s stock closed Thursday at $2.96 a share, down more than 37 percent for the year.
“The company simply cannot continue on this path,” Spear Point said in its letter. “The piecemeal destruction of the company’s assets in pursuit of a failed strategy must come to an end immediately.”
Imation’s consumer storage segment includes such brand names as Memorex.
Spear Point wants the underperforming consumer segment split off from the rest of the company.
In the 10-page letter to investors, Bienvenu said an Oct. 27 meeting with top Imation executives, including Lucas, “did little to allay our main concerns.”