Reuters has a piece on Dow Chemical chief executive Andrew Liveris which is well worth a read:
In her lawsuits and OSHA complaint, [Kimberly Wood, a former fraud investigator for Dow] listed an array of perks that, she claimed, the company had improperly financed for Liveris, his family and friends. Among them: a safari; hundreds of thousands of dollars for Super Bowl parties; and $13,000 in uniforms for his son’s basketball team. Wood claimed that internal auditors identified $13 million in cost overruns on the renovation of a company-owned hotel involving the CEO’s wife, Paula Liveris.
For some of the backstory on Mr Liveris, take a look at this post from November 2013 which considered his record and suggested the company was ripe for the attentions of an activist. Read more
Dow Chemical announced some management changes on Monday.
Chief Financial Officer William H. (Bill) Weideman has elected to retire from the Company, following 38 years of service with Dow. The Board of Directors has elected Howard I. Ungerleider to succeed him as chief financial officer, and his appointment will become effective October 1, 2014.
There was also a promotion for Jim Fitterling, former executive vice president who becomes vice chairman of the company, under longstanding chairman and chief executive Andrew Liveris.
Why now though? Allow us to speculate. Read more
We said to keep an eye on Dow and that advice hasn’t changed. With one activist out there in public (Loeb), the possibility of another lurking, and a little over a week until the window for director nominations opens, this could all move rather quickly.
The reason is the very limited amount of room available to Dow’s chief executive. He is no pantomime villain – that would be to have Andrew Liveris backwards. But shareholder dissatisfaction is palpable and weighty, while it will be hard to avoid the request to appoint outside advisors to consider a split from Dan Loeb (who we understand has a more than $1bn stake). Read more
Well, well — it turns out the long-expected activist in Dow Chemical stock is poison pen wielder Dan Loeb.
Third Point, his $14bn hedge fund, has disclosed that Dow is its largest position by dollar value, and made its case by open letter:
That’s the gist of Sony’s response to billionaire activist investor Daniel Loeb’s suggestion, made via hand-delivered letter, that Sony should break itself up. It stems from an NYT Andrew Ross Sorkin exclusive.
Loeb’s idea is basically: partially spin out Sony’s entertainment division via an IPO which Loeb’s Third Point fund would happily sign up to. He’d also gladly accept a seat on Sony’s board. As the NYT noted, Loeb is known for ousting Yahoo’s former chief executive and poaching Marissa Mayer from Google to run the company. His hedge fund has quietly amassed a stake of about 6.5 per cent in Sony, making it one of the biggest shareholders.
From Loeb’s letter to Sony’s president and CEO Kazuo Hirai: Read more
It’s art hour here on FT Alphaville.
The Celebration series is comprised of an ambitious body of sixteen paintings and over twenty stainless steel sculptures focusing on toys, presents, and other small childhood objects, all rendered with spectacular attention to detail and phenomenal realism. The present work is an excellent example of the artist choosing an everyday, banal object — a chocolate Easter egg — and exalting it through an obsession with craft. As with many of his works, Koons creates a work of art that appeals to multiple senses, as astounding colors delight our vision and the tactile rendering of the blue foil and pink bow begs to be touched. Executed in 1994–2008, the present work is one of five versions, each of which is uniquely colored. Read more
Aggressive activist Dan Loeb’s hedge fund Third Point is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission over talks its managers regularly have with rivals at other funds.
According to Third Point’s quarterly letter to investors last month, first reported by Alpha magazine, the financial regulator has started a “formal investigation” of the $3.3bn fund after being told of the discussions. Mr Loeb – known for his forthright public letters to executives he disagrees with – wrote: Read more