Pitney Bowes, is perhaps best known for its postage meters and other mailing services.
But about a decade ago it launched a global ecommerce operation — eBay was its first client — that provides business-to-consumer logistics services for domestic and cross-border delivery, returns and fulfillment.
And while ecommerce is a huge business globally, Pitney Bowes has struggled to make its operation profitable. In the second quarter alone, revenues fell 25%.
This year investor dissatisfaction has mounted. Earlier in the year hedge fund Hestia publicly chastised management and put up a slate of directors, vowing to replace CEO Marc Lautenbach and seek buyers for the struggling ecommerce division. The firm won four board seats, not enough to displace the CEO.
Among the directors who opted not to run to run for a new term this year was former IPG Chairman and CEO Michael Roth. He joined the Pitney Bowes board in 1995 and was chairman for a period before stepping down from the role in March.
Earlier this week activist investor Ancora issued an “open letter” to the Pitney Board demanding more changes and, like Hestia, called for the replacement of CEO Lautenbach and possibly selling the ecommerce operation.
Ancora also took aim at current board chair Mary Steele Guilfoile, who also sits on the IPG board. Ancora characterized her as a “blind supporter” of the firm’s ecommerce-centric strategy “that has driven massive losses and the destruction of approximately 50% of the company’s market capitalization since 2018.”
Ancora urged the board to replace Guilfoile as chairman with Katie May who was elected earlier this year as part of the Hestia slate.
Asked for comment, a Pitney Bowes spokesperson replied via email, “As a practice, Pitney Bowes engages in open and regular communication with shareholders and welcomes constructive input on how to enhance long term shareholder value."
“Our Board of Directors and management team remain focused on delivering long term and sustainable future value.”