At the annual general meeting of Calida on 21 April 2016 the company’s second largest shareholder Micalux (Haas family, 16% of the capital) proposes to re-elect the former CEO Felix Sulzberger to the board. The board is opposed and instead proposes two new candidates, Stefan Portmann and Jean-Paul Rigaudeau. After hearing all concerned parties, Ethos supports the re-election of the seven members of the board (including F. Sulzberger) as well as the election of S. Portmann but is against the election of J.-P. Rigaudeau.
Felix Sulzberger has decided to quit his function as CEO after 14 years at the head of Calida having reached the age of 65. He is nonetheless ready to continue as a member of the board (in which he has been sitting since 2008) if he is re-elected at the annual general meeting of Calida on 21 April 2016. The board always praised the achievements of F. Sulzberger who succeeded in transforming Calida, a company that was in a very difficult situation, into a leader in its industry.
A new CEO external to the group, Reiner Pichler, has taken over on 1 April 2016. The retained strategy will concentrate both on the completion of the integration of Lafuma and the organic growth of the different brands, while at the same time analysing opportunities for acquisitions of companies. After separate discussions with different board members as well as with Ch. Haas (Micalux) and F. Sulzberger, Ethos did not note any fundamental differences in strategy. On the contrary, Ethos is convinced that the presence of F. Sulzberger on the board will constitute an important added value during this development phase of Calida for the following three reasons:
- F. Sulzberger personifies Calida’s success. Dismissing him would constitute a considerable source of unease for many shareholders. Ethos received assurance from F. Sulzberger that in case he is reelected he will in no way assume neither operational tasks nor tasks intended for the chairman Th. Lustenberger.
- The finalisation of the complete acquisition and the integration of Lafuma initiated by F. Sulzberger are ongoing. Ethos considers it primordial that the new CEO coming from outside of the group, R. Pichler, can benefit from the experience of F. Sulzberger to ensure an optimal takeover of functions. His presence on the board will allow Calida to continue to benefit from his vast experience in the textile sector.
- The historical and main shareholder of Calida (Kellenberger family, 35% of the capital) recently wished to sell their stake before retracting and announcing that they would remain invested at least for the coming three years. These changes of mind by the Kellenberger family can disquiet certain shareholders with a long-term view and create divergence of interests inside the board. In this context, the presence of F. Sulzberger reassures by ensuring continuity.
The board also proposes the election of Stefan Portmann and Jean-Paul Rigaudeau. Ethos supports S. Portmann whose vast experience in Calida’s area of activity will certainly be an advantage. The profile of J.-P. Rigaudeau however does not seem optimal; Ethos is of the opinion that given the sector in which Calida is active, it is indispensable that the board adds a woman, especially as the current female member (M. Tesler) will reach the age limit next year.
In conclusion, Ethos recommends voting for the re-election of the seven members of the board (including F. Sulzberger) as well as for the election of S. Portmann but opposes the election of J.-P. Rigaudeau.