Employee shareholders have long-anticipated the Board either initiating an IPO or exploring other options that would allow employees to access the value of their ownership stake. As a private company, employees have limited methods by which to sell their shares. With the Board consistently resisting shareholders' demands in these regards, the shareholder group wants a new Board in place that will pursue all options on behalf of the company's employee shareholders.
The most recent independent valuation of the company based upon the March 1st revised stock price of $20.90 per share values the company at $16.2 billion. Publix ranks in the Fortune 100 with more than $24 billion in annual revenues.
Employees own more than 85% of the privately-held company that is the largest employee-owned super market chain in the nation with 1,032 stores in five states. The Board, primarily comprised of the descendants of George Jenkins who founded the company in 1930 and who own less than 15% of the company's stock, has resisted taking actions that would allow shareholders to monetize their ownership in the company. Any options to do so could place at risk the family's long-standing control of the Board and company.
In accordance with Publix By-laws, stockholders have the right to nominate candidates to stand for election to the Board of Directors. The proxy statement mailed out recently by the company to shareholders on March 10th contains only the names of the Board's nominees. Proxies will be voted for the election of the Board's nominees unless the stockholder specifies otherwise by writing-in the names of the shareholders' candidate nominees on the proxy card.
All shareholders should be aware they also have the right to vote their shares held in the company's ESOP. Shareholders should include on any proxy the statement, "The ESOP Trustee is instructed to vote my ESOP shares for the same specified Board candidates."
This marks the first time Publix employees have banded together to propose a slate of competing nominees for election to the Board. In last year's election, employees cast more than 14 million share votes against the current Board according to company records filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. An additional more than 29 million share votes last year chose to abstain rather than voting for the Board's candidates.
The informal group of shareholders intends to cast their votes for the following nominees who have been chosen according to their relevant field of expertise to achieve shareholders' goals. All nominees have indicated their willingness to serve:
1. Trey Phillips - Investment banking
2. Rhonda Pearson - Manufacturing
3. Penny Galbreath - Insurance
4. Sam Miller - Law
5. Harold Griffin - Logistics
6. Vier Donier - Corporate Finance
7. Johannes Henderson - Finance
8. Louise Warner - Health Services
9. Macy Moore - Governance
All shareholders are encouraged to vote their shares. If a shareholder has already mailed their proxy and desires to change their votes, a corrected proxy can be submitted. The most recent proxy directions provided is the one that will be voted.
The annual meeting for the election of the Board will be held on April 12th at 9:30 am at the company's headquarters in Lakeland, Florida. Shareholders may vote by proxy or in person.
Publix Employee Shareholders United is an informal group of stockholders that does not require a formal membership. For more information or to comment, Publix Employee Shareholders United has created a Facebook page that can be accessed at: http://www.facebook.com/