Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. shareholders have overwhelmingly approved Schultze Asset Management, LLC’s (SAM) annual “say-on-pay” corporate governance proposal at the grocer’s shareholder meeting this week in its hometown of Jacksonville, Fla. More 19 million shares voted in favor of the proposal, which the Purchase, N.Y.-based alternative-investment firm says is a clear indication of shareholders' lack of confidence in Winn-Dixie’s current compensation practices.
“Shareholders are frustrated by Winn-Dixie's lack of a simple, publicly disclosed strategy to maximize shareholder value,” said SAM founder George Schultze. “They have suffered tremendous losses in [Winn-Dixie] stock while executive management received over $15 million in compensation, including private jets and lucrative stock grants, paid with an undervalued stock currency. Management and the board should immediately implement a stock repurchase program, funded with a new high-yield bond issuance, to send a strong message to the market about their confidence in the company's future. [The] vote further demonstrates shareholder disapproval of the status quo, in light of the company's undervaluation vs. its peer group.”
At presstime, Winn-Dixie officials had not responded to a request from PG for comment.
SAM manages assets for hundreds of clients worldwide, with a particular emphasis on distressed securities and special-situation investments.