Xerox Holdings shares are in the spotlight as investors respond to news that CEO and Vice Chairman John Visentin has died unexpectedly at age 59, a development that could trigger renewed speculation about a potential sale or breakup of the 116-year-old company.
The enterprise printing company (ticker:
) said late Wednesday that Visentin died as a result of “complications from an ongoing illness.” It named Steven Bandrowczak, a former
executive who has been president and chief operations officer of the company since 2018, as interim CEO.
and HP executive, Visentin joined Xerox in the top job in May 2018 as part of an agreement that settled a proxy contest with investor Carl Icahn and the billionaire Darwin Deason. Deason became a large Xerox shareholders when he sold Affiliated Computer Services to Xerox for $6.4 billion in 2010.
At the time, Xerox agreed to immediately consider strategic alternatives. Investors continue to hope for an overhaul that would boost shareholder value.
As part of that same agreement, Xerox in 2018 named
CEO Keith Cozza as chairman. Cozza recently stepped down from the Xerox board. In May, he was succeeded as chairman by James L. Nelson, the CEO of the real estate investment trust Global Net Lease.
As recently as the company’s first-quarter conference call, Visentin said Xerox was “increasingly looking to monetizing investments” in new areas through strategic transactions that could include the sale or merger of various businesses. DealReporter, a publication that focuses on mergers and acquisitions, wrote Thursday that with Visentin’s death, the odds of a sale of the company have increased.
Icahn still controls a stake of about 22% in Xerox. About two years ago, with Icahn’s enthusiastic support, Xerox made a bid to buy HP Inc. (HPQ), a much larger company but a key rival in enterprise printing. HP rejected the deal, and chose instead to adopt an aggressive capital return program that has spurred a substantial stock repurchase plan.
Down 2.4% on Thursday, Xerox shares have declined 35% so far this year.
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