Bruce Berkowitz of Fairholme Capital Management LLC, St. Joe Co.’s largest shareholder, is seeking to put former Florida Governor Charlie Crist on the real estate developer’s board.
Crist was named as an alternative candidate to Rodney Barreto, chairman of Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, according to a regulatory filing today. Barreto may not be considered an independent director because he has provided services to St. Joe., Berkowitz said.
Crist “is well-known to all of you,” Berkowitz said in an e-mail to the board that was included in the filing. The former governor, 54, led Florida from 2007 until January.
Berkowitz and Fairholme President Charles Fernandez joined St. Joe’s board last month, less than two weeks before the board agreed to raise the 30 percent cap on Fairholme’s ownership of the company. The Watersound, Florida-based developer hired Morgan Stanley to consider options to increase value, including a possible sale, the company said Feb. 8.
Berkowitz said he and Fernandez have raised “objections” to current executive compensation at recent board meetings.
“We remain hopeful that constructive change can be accomplished through consensual board action,” he said in the filing.
The regulatory filing was made after the close of regular U.S. trading. St. Joe shares fell 63 cents to $26.37 as of 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange Composite trading today. They have gained 19 percent this year.
Fairholme owns about 29 percent of St. Joe, northern Florida’s biggest private landowner. The company has been criticized by hedge-fund manager David Einhorn, who said he was betting against the stock because the property owner needs to take “substantial” asset-impairment charges on its land.
The company said in January that it was the subject of an informal inquiry by the Securities and Exchange Commission over its accounting for land values.