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L Brands Investor Pushes for Victoria's Secret Spinoff

The hedge fund also suggested that the role of chairman and chief executive be held by separate individuals, an increasingly popular demand among investors pushing for operational reform.
The 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in New York | Source: Getty
By
  • Reuters

COLUMBUS, United States — Activist investor Barington Capital on Tuesday urged L Brands to separate its Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works businesses, in an effort to turn around the struggling consumer brands owner.

Barington urged the company to retain advisers and explore either a spin off of the underperforming Victoria's Secret brand or take the much financially stronger Bath & Body Works public.

The hedge fund also suggested that the role of chairman and chief executive be held by separate individuals, an increasingly popular demand by activist investors who feel it would help companies run better.

In a letter to L Brands' chairman Leslie Wexner, Barington said the "true potential" of Bath & Body Works had not been realised because of years of weak performance at Victoria's Secret, stemming from a failure to maintain a strong brand image and missteps with merchandising.

Barington did not disclose the size of its ownership stake in L Brands. It did not immediately respond to emails seeking details.

Shares in L Brands rose 3 percent to $27.50 in early trading after Barington's announcement, having fallen last week after reporting poor quarterly results.

L Brands did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

"The company has significantly underperformed its peers and the market as a whole," Barington chairman James Mitarotonda said.

He also expressed concern over a lack of diversity on L Brands' board — nine of its 12 directors are men — and pointed out that some directors had sat on the board for decades.

Barington's call for separating the company comes just days after apparel maker Gap Inc announced it would spin off its better-performing Old Navy brand.

By Aishwarya Venugopal; editor: Sai Sachin Ravikumar.

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