Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, the largest shareholder in Xerox Corp., has reportedly teamed with Dallas executive Darwin Deason, the third largest Xerox shareholder, to demand changes in the company’s relationship with Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings Corp.
According to a Wall Street Journal report citing unnamed “people familiar with the matter,” Icahn and Deason are working together to force Xerox to sever its joint venture with
Fujifilm and explore other strategic paths, including the possible sale of the company. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that Xerox and Fujifilm were in secretive talks, but the nature of the discussions were not clear.
Last week, Icahn published an open letter to Xerox’s management that suggested the company could do well without them.
“If the ‘old guard’ directors are similarly incapable, or unwilling to do the work necessary to rectify this dire situation for shareholders, then they must be replaced,” he wrote. The newspaper added that Icahn specifically called for the ouster of Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson.
The two investors, who together control more than 15 percent of Xerox’s shares, have recently been actively agitating against the company’s board of directors. Deason, who sold Affiliated Computer Services to Xerox in 2010 for $6.4 billion, published an open letter to the Xerox board of directors last week that stated the company was plotting with Fujifilm “in violation of the law to cook up a short-term Band-Aid (that) is insufficient and unwise in the extreme and warrants shareholder action.”
Last month, Jonathan Christodoro, former managing director of Icahn Capital LP, resigned from the Xerox board to allow Icahn’s affiliated funds to submit nominations for four candidates in the election of directors at Xerox’s upcoming annual shareholders meeting.
In response to the report, Xerox issued a statement that insisted its “board of directors and management are confident with the strategic direction in which the company is heading and we will continue to take action to achieve our common goal of creating value for all Xerox shareholders.”