Abercrombie Activists May Affect Change: Kaplan

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Dec. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Robert Kaplan, management professor at Harvard Business School, discusses activist investors pressuring the Abercrombie & Fitch board to replace CEO Mike Jeffries and the impact of investors on company boards. He speaks on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg Surveillance.”

" he said?

Talk about leadership?

What are the first principles for you?

The very first principle is can you put yourself in the shoes of the decision-making -- decision-maker, figure out what you would do, act on your beliefs in a way that adds value to others.

You just described abercrombie & fitch.

You were at goldman when it helped bring them public.

Are you surprised at all?

What is happening now and activist ceo?

Remember, we took abercrombie & fitch public out of the limited, one of the many companies of the limited including victoria's secret and bath and body works which were independent and now back in.

This is a tough is this.

And fashion retail is extremely tough.

Tastes change, leaders have to adapt.

In my surprise?

I am never surprised when it happens.

It is tough -- a tough business but, as you mention, you need a strong leader.

Has as time expired at this point?

He has been in periods a strong leader but they have had a rough run the last three or four years.

This is an example where activist may be conserved a positive role -- activists maybe can serve a positive role.

Changing the leadership does not get them back on the fee because the whole idea of 18 retailer has changed.

When you see good activism, they are pushing for strategic action including sale of the company.

I think it is hard for an activist to know whether my jeffries is the best ceo for the company, but they can push the board on strategic change.

Going to the heart of the matter, going back to your career at goldman sachs and the rest am aware of the board?

You and i had the conversation 15 or 20 years ago.

I think a lot has changed.

I imagine this would be a very tough board to sit on because you've got for many what seems like an indispensable ceo.

They've had very good performance.

They've had a rough run.

What they are trying to figure out now is the we have a success for -- the successor and what do we do?

The options are tough.

Perhaps abercrombie & fitch will look for a new chief executive if jeffries gets put out -- get put up.

Whether it is microsoft word jcpenney looking for a permanent ceo.

It brings up the question of the quality a leader needs.

Are you born to be a leader or are they born?

A leadership has to be learned.

It requires you to do all sorts of things that are not born with.

The challenge back to boards is, i don't think it is a leadership issue.

I think it is one of these -- industries are constantly changing and being disruptive and you make mistakes as a leader.

General electric, i will guess without looking, has a real board with real ceo acumen on it.

I was out with the jeffrey immelt in columbus and i had the great honor of meeting archie griffin.

He is on the board of abercrombie & fitch.

What does a guy like the giant of ohio state due to help a company like that move forward?

Figurehead board.

Like heisman trophy?

Ohio state is in columbus, ohio, and this company came out of the limited, which is columbus ohio.

You don't see this as often these days.

I am not saying archie griffin is not a terrific board member.

This board has a very tough challenge, and the strategic solution might be the best answer.

What are investors going to change board dynamic?

Beyond just holding them accountable?

You are seeing activists -- when investors don't believe boards are doing their jobs, today they will step in and they can even have a small stake these days and have quite a bit of influence if they connect that activism to an action that could create shareholder value.

What may change things is maybe tom needs to become a model.

[laughter] led to the twitter question.

@bsurveillance, the twitter question goes along these lines.

Our activist investors knowing too far?

Doing it out @bsurveillance.

With robert kaplan at harvard business school.

Like -- and to talk about.

Coming up -- crowd funding.

We will talk to indiegogo's ceo slava rubin to talk about disruption.


This text has been automatically generated. It may not be 100% accurate.


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