PulteGroup Founder Vows to Vote Against Board Unless CEO Removed

PulteGroup Inc.’s founder and largest stockholder, stepping up his fight with the homebuilder’s managers, says he’ll vote against its entire board unless the company’s chief executive officer and lead independent director are immediately replaced.

Bill Pulte, who founded the company in 1950, delivered the ultimatum in a letter to shareholders Wednesday. He says CEO Richard Dugas is responsible for the departures of talented executives, overly aggressive land purchases before the housing crash and a stock underperformance relative to some peers. Dugas said earlier this month that he would retire in May 2017. Pulte has said that’s not soon enough.

“It is my strong conviction that Richard Dugas and Jim Postl must resign immediately from all their positions with the company,” wrote Pulte, who has 30.7 million PulteGroup shares, or almost 8.9 percent of the company’s outstanding stock, according to data complied by Bloomberg. “To the extent Messrs. Dugas and Postl refuse to immediately resign from the board and are not replaced by shareholder representatives, I will be voting against the entire board at this year’s upcoming annual meeting of shareholders.”

The Pultes missed the deadline for a proxy fight ahead of next month’s shareholder meeting and Bill Pulte’s grandson has said the family was evaluating “other options.” Bill Pulte hired shareholder-activism attorneys at Olshan Frome Wolosky LLP. The firm has been involved in seeking board representation at more than 300 publicly traded companies, according to its website.

Jim Zeumer, a PulteGroup spokesman, didn’t immediately respond to a phone call and e-mail seeking comment.

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