When activist investor Carl Icahn acquired a 9.4% stake in Family Dollar Stores Inc. (NYSE: FDO) earlier this month, he said he wanted to “engage in conversations” with the company’s management to discuss Family Dollar’s business and strategies to enhance shareholder value. Well, one conversation appears to have been enough to convince Icahn that selling the company is the only answer.
In a letter to Family Dollar’s CEO following a dinner meeting on Thursday evening, Icahn said that it is “apparent that we have a strong difference of opinion as to the future of our company.” Icahn claims that the store has underperformed compared with its peers and that it has lagged the S&P 500 over the past one-year and three-year periods. The solution: “Family Dollar [must] be put up for sale immediately.”
Icahn also wants immediately to add three of his representatives to Family Dollar’s board of directors, and he said that he expects that these new directors would be part of a new committee of the board “tasked with immediately beginning a process to approach the most likely buyers of the company.”
Icahn points out that since he announced his purchase in early June, Family Dollar’s shares have gained 12.5%, which to Icahn indicates that “an overwhelming majority of the company’s shareholders would be in favor of a sale.”
For its part, Family Dollar adopted a shareholders’ rights plan (aka, poison pill) right after Icahn announced his purchase of the company’s stock. The one-year plan prevents any shareholder from acquiring a stake of more than 10% in the company.
In response to Icahn’s letter, Family Dollar said:
Members of Family Dollar’s Board and management team recently met with Mr. Icahn, and, as we expressed in the meeting, we are always open to constructively communicating with our shareholders with the shared goal of enhancing value.
As previously announced the Company is undertaking an in-depth business review to identify opportunities to strengthen our value proposition, increase operational efficiencies and improve financial performance. While this business review is ongoing, we continue to take immediate, strategic actions as appropriate to improve our performance.
That response is unlikely to impress Family Dollar’s other big investors, and it is even less likely to slow down Icahn. As his letter makes clear, he wants things to happen immediately, if not sooner.
Shares of Family Dollar traded up by about 2% in Friday;s premarket, at $69.60 in a 52-week range of $55.64 to $75.29.