In what a Friday (Nov. 17) CNBC report described as a “scathing” letter, the investment firm has written to the board of the company — formerly known as Overstock — accusing it of refusing to answer shareholder questions and engaging in “poor behavior.”
The letter, written by JAT founder John Thaler, also claims the board has canceled scheduled investor conferences and blurred the truth about the departure of CEO Jonathan Johnson earlier this month.
“We have attempted to engage constructively with investor relations, senior management and the Board of Directors in recent months, making suggestions of best practices that might preserve and enhance value, and more recently pointing out actions taken by management and the board that appear to be destroying shareholder value,” the letter says.
The letter adds that JAT has taken a “more active posture” with Beyond — the company’s new business name — “because, quite frankly, I have never seen such poor behavior by a Board in my career.”
Reached for comment by PYMNTS, a spokesperson for Beyond offered this statement:
“The Beyond, Inc. management team and board are focused on advancing the Company’s strategic objectives to deliver sustainable value creation for shareholders. We continue to engage regularly with shareholders to communicate our strategy and understand their perspectives, as we value constructive engagement. The board and management team will continue to act in the best interests of our employees, our customers, our suppliers, and all of our shareholders.”
JAT called on the company to remove Johnson earlier this month, citing what it called poor performance versus other retailers. The company announced his resignation days later.
However, JAT’s new letter accuses the board of misleading behavior, presenting what it says was a firing as a mutual decision.
“Rather than terminating Johnson and publicly saying so (a statement that would have been well received by everyone involved), the Board decided to craft a press release along with Jonathan suggesting that he had stepped down, and even making the ludicrous statement that he and the Board had jointly concluded that ‘now was the ideal time’ for a leadership transition,” JAT said.
Speaking with PYMNTS Karen Webster in July, Johnson said he was surprised there weren’t more bidders for Bed Bath & Beyond.
“We saw real value in the brand and the customer list,” he said. “It’s an iconic brand that we wanted to save. It’s a customer list that matches well with ours — not a lot of overlap, but the demographic is someone that’s with us.”