Former JB Hi Fi Boss Quarantined From Myer Fight Ring
Richard Murrey the former CEO of JB Hi Fi has been “quarantined” from being involved in direct dealings with Myer by his new boss Solomon Lew.
Lew the major shareholder in Premier Investments is trying to sweep out the board and take greater control of the struggling Melbourne based retailer, he holds 42.43 per cent of Myer, is now agitating for the final non-executive Myer directors to quit and is pressing for a wider shareholder revolt.
The Premier Investments board believes Mr Murray needs to learn about the capricious world of fashion and Mr Lew wants his new CEO to not be distracted by fresh hostilities with Myer and a looming battle for control of the 120-year-old store.
Should Mr Lew gain control, any investment decisions would not involve Mr Murray, who will be kept busy with the Premier Investments fashion brands.
Earlier ChannelNews had indicated that Murray had been hired to help Lew get control and then run Myer.
The Australian newspaper said that the unexpected decision by a major Myer shareholder two weeks ago to offer its 5 per cent stake in the department store to Mr Lew gave him the opportunity to tighten his hold on the share register and sped up Premier Investments’ timetable.
When Mr Murray starts as CEO in October, taking over from Mark McInnes, he will walk into the middle of a proxy war and very public Myer assault.
Premier Investments is tipped to get hold of the Myer share register this week a move that could lead to an extraordinary general meeting at which Mr Lew could try to kick out the board, but this would also trigger concerns about perceived conflicts of interest surrounding the billionaire businessman. Mr Lew and his stable of family companies are the single biggest suppliers to Myer outside of cosmetics, and many of his fashion brands compete with Myer claims the Australian.
The Australian also revealed that the Myer board in 2017 was advised by external legal counsel that the conflicts of interest that plagued Mr Lew’s public company and family-owned businesses were so broad that it would be difficult and probably unworkable for him to have his nominees on the Myer board.
Myer’s law firm argued that even identifying the conflicts would be complex and problematic, as the ranged from fashion and merchandise buying to pricing and property, further complicating the Myer board’s deliberations.
ChannelNews understands that Murray would have been seen as a potential conflict.