NEW YORK (Reuters) - Activist investment firm Land & Buildings on Tuesday warned that it may seek board seats at shopping mall operator Taubman Centers Inc next year unless performance improves.
Jonathan Litt, who runs the firm and is known for pushing for change at real estate companies, wrote to fellow Taubman shareholders, telling them that he plans to “take any action that we deem necessary to hold this Board and Bobby Taubman accountable.”
Unless there is “meaningful progress in the coming months,” Litt wrote that he plans to wage a proxy contest and nominate directors next year.
Specifically Litt wants Taubman Centers to sell assets in Asia and sell or spin-off “Jewel Box” assets which include properties like the Mall at Short Hills in New Jersey.
Shares in the company, whose market capitalization is roughly $2.6 billion, have fallen 26% in the last 52 weeks as consumer appetites have shifted more to buying online.
“Their best defense against a proxy contest in 2020 is to drive material outperformance by maximizing value for all shareholders,” Litt wrote in the letter.
Litt, whose firm had roughly $577 million in regulatory assets at the end of last year, has been pushing for changes at Taubman since 2016 and won a board seat two years later.
He wrote that he did not stand for re-election this year because “it was clear that the Company did not intend to re-nominate me,” and because he feels that one independent director was not enough to push for the changes he feels are needed.
Next year however shareholders will have a chance to cast ballots on all directors including Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Bobby Taubman. “All directors and specifically, Bobby Taubman, can be held accountable by shareholders for the Company’s atrocious absolute and relative performance for the first time since 2017 at the 2020 Annual Meeting,” the letter said.
News of Litt’s plans was first reported by Bloomberg.
Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Susan Thomas