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Buffalo Wild Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings nominates former McDonald’s executive to board

Two new nominations still don’t satisfy activist shareholder

Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. named two nominees Monday to its board of directors, including former McDonald’s USA president Janice Fields and CTI Foods CEO Sam Rovit, who was proposed by an activist investor pushing for changes.

The nominees would give the Minneapolis-based casual-dining chain more food industry experience on its board, assuming shareholders approve them.

By nominating Fields and Rovit, Buffalo Wild Wings all but assures that its nine-person board will have at least five new members. In October, the company named three new board members: CBS Radio president Andre Fernandez, eBay Inc. executive Harry Lawton and Levi Strauss & Co. CFO Harmit Singh.

The board change “demonstrates our commitment to enhancing Buffalo Wild Wings’ governance practices through board refreshment,” Buffalo Wild Wings chairman Jerry Rose said in a statement.

But the new nominees did not satisfy activist shareholder Marcato Capital Management, although Rovit is one of its own nominees. The investor, which owns 5.6 percent of the company’s stock, called the nominations “desperate,” and said they do not go far enough.

“Buffalo Wild Wings’ desperate actions only confirm that there is substantial deficiency at the board level and lack of a cohesive plan to create long-term shareholder value,” Marcato said in a statement. 

“It is deeply troubling that the company would take these steps without consulting us or other major shareholders, as we have continuously endeavored to engage in constructive dialogue with the board and management on the strategic, operational and financial issues that we believe are plaguing the company. Unfortunately, every attempt we’ve made has been stymied.” 

Marcato has been pushing for changes to Buffalo Wild Wings’ business model and operations, and has nominated four people to the company’s board. In addition to Rovit, Marcato has nominated former Pizza Hut CEO Scott Bergren, former Buffalo Wild Wings executive Lee Sanders and Marcato managing partner Mick McGuire. 

Fields has more than 35 years of restaurant experience, much of it with McDonald’s Corp. From 2010 through 2012, she was president of McDonald’s USA, overseeing 14,000 domestic restaurants. Before that, she was chief operating officer with the domestic division and led the development of the McCafé business.

Rovit has been CEO of food maker CTI since 2015, and previously worked with Kraft Foods.

With the nominations of Fields and Rovit, James Damian and Michael Johnson will retire from the board. Both had been directors at the company since 2006. 

Contact Jonathan Maze at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

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