Plantronics, the communications equipment maker targeted in 2018 by short outfit The Friendly Bear, is facing a board challenge from NuOrion Partners.
Plantronics revealed in its latest proxy statement that Guy Phillips, owner of 104 shares, intends to nominate himself for election to the board at the firm’s upcoming annual meeting. In his nomination statement, Phillips said he is affiliated with a fund that has a net short interest in Plantronics, according to the company.
However, Phillips told Activist Insight Online that the company’s statement is not true and he has always had a net long position in the stock, although he admitted that he used hedging. “That is a pretty aggressive action,” Phillips added.
Plantronics said it had discussions with the shareholder but decided to recommend against his candidacy, contending that he “would not add additional skills or diversity” to the board.
Phillips is one of the founders of boutique firm NuOrion Partners. He is a former executive at Swiss investment bank UBS.
In July 2018, The Friendly Bear issued a short report in which it predicted Plantronics would collapse under the pressure of a poorly designed deal. The report alleged the firm’s move to buy video conferencing gear manufacturer Polycom for $2 billion earlier that year would lead to a crippling debt load and a worsening competitive position.
At the time, The Friendly Bear put an 80% downside target on the stock. Indeed, the firm’s shares have lost 81% between July 19, the date the short seller’s report hit the wire, and Wednesday’s close.