Maple Leaf Foods has taken another big step to refresh the venerable company.
On Thursday the firm announced that three of its directors will not seek re-nomination at the next annual board meeting, while also noting that David Emerson will be nominated to the board. The three directors stepping down are Gordon Ritchie, Chaviva Hošek and James Hankinson.
The shakeup is just the latest in a broad array of changes the company has gone through as it tries to revamp its operations and boost its lagging stock price. Outside the boardroom, Maple Leaf has implemented a number of operational adjustments, including closing older plants and consolidating workers at newer meat-processing facilities.
That the board is being shaken up is just another sign that the company is truly reorganizing with activist Greg Boland on board. In 2010, long-time investor Ontario Teachers Pension Plan announced that it would sell its 35-per-cent stake in the company, and Mr. Boland happily stepped forward to scoop of a 10-per-cent position, having eyed Maple Leaf for a decade.
At first, the relationship between Mr. Boland and Mr. McCain was frosty, something the Globe’s Jacquie McNish on the evolving relationship between Mr. Boland and Maple Leaf’s Michael McCain.
As the story points out, Mr. Boland was looking to come in and shake up a company whose board included some of Mr. McCain’s father’s “closest friends, many of them with shared roots in New Brunswick, home to the McCain french-fry empire.” The big names included Geoff Beattie, CEO of the Thomson family's Woodbridge Co. Ltd. (which owns The Globe and Mail), James Hankinson, former president of Canadian Pacific Ltd and Purdy Crawford. “Closely knit, influential and deeply connected, the board was untouchable.”
But now the board even the board is being revamped -- though it should be noted that nominating David Emerson isn’t exactly breaking away from the old boys network. In addition to his former roles as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of International Trade, and Minister of Industry, and Mr. Emerson currently serves on the boards of Finning International Inc., Stantec Inc. and Postmedia Networks Inc