In "Don't squelch the small shareholder" (News: Analysis & Commentary, Dec. 29/Jan. 5), I hope it was clear that, at Fleming, we value the views of all shareholders--as well as those of all our customers, large and small.
My point was that health, environmental, and human rights activists and others are known to take small stakes in public companies as a way of advancing their agenda. In a similar manner, it should be evident that when the Teamsters union, which has a number of collective bargaining agreements with Fleming, holds a nominal number of our shares, their primary agenda is certainly something other than the altruistic pursuit of good corporate governance.
The challenge facing Corporate America--and facing all shareholders, large and small--is how to deal with the activism of shareholders whose purpose in holding a limited number of shares is ultimately aimed at objectives that can negatively affect the economic health of the company and the interests of all shareholders. However much some may applaud what the Teamsters accomplished from their base of 65 shares, no one should mistake their principal intentions--which we believe involve an ulterior motive that has nothing to do with shareholders' rights.
Robert E. Stauth
Chairman & CEO