Xerox board does an about-face on new management

Jeff Jacobson.
Jeff Jacobson.

We reported here late last week that Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson and six other board members have agreed to resign in a move that throws the controversial Fujifilm takeover deal of Xerox into doubt. The move, according to industry experts, could even spell the end of the long-standing Fuji-Xerox joint venture. We also pointed out that Jacobson’s departure after 16 months signals a victory for activist investors Darwin Deason and Carl Icahn, who opposed the deal from the start, while Xerox’s future relationship with Fujifilm could be problematic.

Well, guess what? Less than two days after notifying shareholders, employees and the media that Xerox’s best interest would be served with a new CEO to replace Jacobson, as well as a new chairman and several new board members, Xerox’s board did an about-face last Thursday night when it announced that the current board members, chairman and CEO would remain in place!

Carl Icahn.
Carl Icahn.
Darwin Deason.
Darwin Deason.

Dissident Xerox shareholders Carl Icahn and Darwin Deason (15% owners) issued this statement in an open letter to Xerox shareholders: “At 8 pm EST on Thursday night, the settlement agreement we entered into with Xerox and a unanimous Xerox Board earlier this week expired without the Xerox Board permitting the agreement to take effect, once again intentionally violating their fiduciary duties to Xerox shareholders by pursuing their own brazen self-interest. This inexplicable turn of events occurred for one reason only: the Xerox Board recklessly refused to follow through with the leadership and governance changes we agreed to, demanding unprecedented additional approvals for their own personal self-interest.”

Whether you agree with them or not, the current wisdom (i.e. rumours) explained that the change of heart resulted from the Xerox board requiring assurances that they would be protected from all legal actions related to their activities leading to the Xerox-Fujifilm transaction. That’s where this back-and-forth situation stands as of this morning. At any rate, we’ll continue to keep you informed as more news is released by either party.

Editors’s note: So the battle (i.e. legal circus) continues. Personally, I’m obliged to cover news from billionaires and multi-million-dollar companies as part of my job. But I doubt that your average small or medium-sized commercial printer in Canada, who’s struggling to make ends meet, gives a rat’s behind. That being said, we should all care about the front-line employees of Xerox and Fujifilm, whose jobs may be impacted when the dust clears (if they’re mentioned at all moving forward).

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Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.