Skechers investors urged by activist shareholder firm to remake board

Activist investor in Skechers puts its foot down: Remake the board

CtW Investment Group, which works with union pension funds investing with Skechers, is pushing other shareholders of the Manhattan Beach footwear brand to clean house.

In a letter obtained this week by The Times, CtW Executive Director Dieter Waizenegger urges Skechers investors to oppose reelection of directors Richard Siskind and Richard Rappaport, two of the three directors up for renewal at Skechers' annual meeting on May 22.

The duo, according to CtW, are a symbol of “a deeply troubling recruitment process that jeopardizes credible independence.” The letter accuses Skechers of populating its board with directors saddled with conflicts of interest and run-ins with regulators.

CtW says that Skechers has a history of bringing on outside directors who have already had business ties to the company.

And many directors are serving long tenures, tamping down fresh perspectives from new board members, Waizenegger wrote. Siskind has been an outside director for 14 years.

The board also suffers from “a negligible amount of diversity, including gender, race and experience,” Waizenegger wrote.

CtW, whose clients manage about $250 billion and own less than half a percent of Skechers’ outstanding shares, sent a letter to Skechers in February listing its concerns but said it was rebuffed. CtW said it aims to “enhance long-term shareholder returns through active ownership.”

Asked about CtW's complaints, Skechers spokeswoman Jennifer Clay emailed that the "we didn’t have a comment then so don’t now."

Skechers said last week that it will consider purchasing an interest in the Los Angeles Clippers, the basketball team embroiled in controversy following owner Donald Sterling's racially charged comments.

"But we are in the preliminary stages of exploring this opportunity, and understand that a number of people and companies are considering buying or participating in purchasing the team,” said David Weinberg, chief operating and financial officer for Skechers. “We expect the process to be highly competitive, therefore we expect to keep details confidential as necessary as it unfolds."

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