A couple of years back, Dan Loeb had a rather unpleasant experience in Japan.
After suggesting (several times) that Sony might be a great deal better off if it got rid of its entertainment division and brought onto its board one D. Loeb, he heard two things that he is more used to saying himself: (a) “No.” And (b), an ad hominem attack, from no lesser personage that George Clooney. It was all a bit too much to endure, so Danny backed down.
However, it appears that he’s been seething over the humiliation ever since, biding his time to settle his score with the Land of the Rising Sun, looking for the perfect, non-George-Clooney-aligned target. And when 7-Eleven parent company chief Toshifumi Suzuki tried to fire the man Dan Loeb thought should have his job, no amount of decency or respect for elders or Japanese unfriendliness towards activist hedge fund managers could keep him from sending Suzuki into not-so-early retirement.
The dispute came to a climax on Thursday morning, when the Seven & i Holdings board met to consider a proposal backed by Mr. Suzuki to oust Mr. Isaka from his job. The vote was as close as it could be: 7-6 in favor, with two abstentions. The motion failed because it needed a majority of the 15-member board.
Hours later, at a sometimes-emotional news conference, Mr. Suzuki said he was stepping down. He described a lengthy effort to get Mr. Isaka to quit that ultimately failed. Mr. Suzuki said that in light of the turmoil, he no longer felt worthy of continuing in the CEO role….
“We are pleased to see that the [Seven & i board’s] succession planning will be based on merit and the best interests of shareholders,” Mr. Loeb said in a statement Thursday.