Bowing to pressure from investors, Pitney Bowes has replaced longtime CEO Marc Lautenbach, who is also leaving the board of directors, while a company statement on the news points to the likelihood of a pending sale of the money-losing global ecommerce unit, which investors have also called for.
The Pitney Bowes board today named EVP and Group President Jason Dies as interim CEO. Previously, Dies, an eight-year veteran of the firm, had headed up the Sending Technologies (SendTech) unit.
“I am extremely excited to take on the interim Chief Executive Officer role and want to thank the board for placing its trust in me,” Dies said in a release. “All of us at Pitney Bowes know that we are part of a historic brand that plays a pivotal role in helping companies meet their most critical mailing and shipping needs.”
“It has been an honor and a privilege to lead this iconic company for over a decade” Lautenbach said in the release. “As proud as I am of what has been accomplished, I am particularly proud of our team, who has always been guided by our ‘true north’ – our value of doing the right thing the right way.”
While Pitney Bowes said Lautenbach stepped down from his position, a search is typically conducted in advance and a permanent CEO named if it’s a voluntary departure.
Kurt Wolf, principal of Pitney Bowes investor Hestia Capital, has been named as co-chair of the CEO search committee, along with board member Mary Guilfoile. Wolf had been one of the most vocal critics of Lautenbach and a strong advocate for the sale of the global ecommerce unit. He was voted in as a director at the annual shareholder meeting in May after a bruising proxy fight.
Wolf and Hestia were also involved in a high-profile board takeover of GameStop that enabled fabled investor Ryan Cohen to step in as chairman. Cohen was named CEO of the troubled company on Friday and immediately called for austerity measures, according to gaming site Kotaku.
In the last couple months, Ancora Holdings, a significant debt holder of Pitney Bowes, and Bradley Radoff, a major investor, joined the call for Lautenbach’s departure and sale of the global ecommerce unit.
With Lautenbach gone, Hestia’s faction now controls four of the eight board seats. The other three, who also joined in May, include Katie May, former CEO of ShippingEasy and a former director of Stamps.com; Todd Everett, former president and CEO of Newgistics; and Milena Alberti-Perez, former CFO of both Getty Images and adtech firm MediaMath.
Newgistics was acquired by Pitney Bowes in 2017 and spun up into the global ecommerce unit.
In January, as the proxy fight between investors and management wore on, Dies was named EVP and group president. He was given responsibility for SendTech, which handles shipping and mailing solutions including parcel lockers, and pre-sort, the postal consolidator business, but notably not global ecommerce.
“If anyone needed further confirmation that Pitney Bowes’ future plans do not include the Global Ecommerce segment, look no further” than that fact, said Justin Dopierala, principal of Domo Capital and a Pitney Bowes investor, in a Seeking Alpha post.
“Given that the Presort and Sending Technology Solution segments showed actual year-over-year growth over the first six months of 2023 in a difficult economy, it makes sense that the company decided to promote (Dies) as interim CEO,” Dopierala wrote.
In the second quarter ended June 30, Pitney Bowe’s global ecommerce unit lost $38 million in adjusted EBIT on a 21% drop in revenue, while presort gained $20 million (+3% revenue) and SendTech reported $97 million in adjusted EBIT despite a 5% drop in revenue.