Land & Buildings’ Jonathan Litt disclosed a position in Crown Castle International after the company announced a series of changes to its board composition and executive compensation.
In a Wednesday press release, Crown Castle announced changes which include a mandatory board retirement policy. Directors that are at least 72 years old will be required to step down from the board, the company said, noting that four directors will no longer stand for re-election at the company’s 2021 annual meeting.
Another two directors, including Chairman Landis Martin, will not be nominated for re-election at the 2022 annual meeting. Crown Castle said it has appointed a “leading search firm” to assist in identifying independent directors “who bring diversity as well as relevant skills and experience.”
In a Thursday tweet, Jonathan Litt criticized the news as a “classic entrenchment maneuver,” designed to “buy time” for Crown Castle. “In the face of extraordinary underperformance of Fiber – as highlighted by Elliott Management – and poor capital allocation under CEO Jay Brown, self-refreshment just isn’t enough,” the activist said. Litt said his fund has a stake in Crown Castle but did not specify the amount. A spokesman for the activist declined to comment on the size of the stake.
Crown Castle noted that the governance review has been underway for two years, though the changes were announced shortly afterPaul Singer’s Elliott pushed the company to shift focus from its fiber business to its legacy tower business.
According to Elliott, which owns a $1 billion stake in the company, Crown Castle’s fiber operation has underperformed in recent years, and the activist believes the company’s network tower unit, which rents out property to telecom companies, offers a greater return for investors.
Elliott has urged the company to present a detailed plan for its fiber business, which the activist said should be delivered with Crown Castle’s second-quarter results on Thursday. Crown Castle’s earnings call is scheduled to take place at 10:30 a.m. EDT.
Shares in Crown Castle were down 2.5% to $169.50 per share at 10:53 a.m. EDT on Thursday.