Activists topple key URW board members, with CEO change tipped

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW) is poised for a major management shake-up, with even CEO Christophe Cuvillier's position in the balance, according to a report in French newspaper Le Journal Du Dimanche (JDD).

The media report came after an eventful first meeting of the new Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW) supervisory board on 13 November, which saw chairman Colin Dyer resign, to be immediately replaced by activist shareholder, Léon Bressler.

Jacques Stern, vice-chairman, Philippe Collombel, Sophie Stabile and Jacqueline Tammenoms Bakker also tendered their resignations during the meeting, while other board newcomers Susana Gallardo and Xavier Niel were appointed member of the governance and momination committee, and member of the remuneration committee respectively.

The changes are unlikely to be the last, according to JDD, which claims that Cuvillier and chief financial officer Jaap Tonckens are expected to exit as well in the next few days. The newspaper suggests that Jean-Marie Tritant, current president of URW US and a company veteran, could be favoured to take over as CEO.

The departures would mark a potentially major sea-change for the company after a series of shareholder battles in recent weeks, which largely went the way of the activist consortium headed by ex-Unibail CEO Bressler and French telecoms billionaire Niel.

Last week the rebels triumphed at URW's combined general meeting, derailing plans for a €3.5 bn capital raise and winning places on the board for their leaders.

A two-thirds vote required to greenlight a €3.5 bn capital raise as part of the board-backed Reset plan failed to win the two-thirds majority required, while Bressler, Niel and Gallardo were elected to the supervisory board.

The activist consortium wants URW to focus on selling its US arm to repay its €24 bn debt load, calling a rights issue at this stage 'severely dilutive'.

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