1 Share appreciation calculated from the closing price on September 12, 2011, the day before the announcement of the
Company’s strategic priorities, through September 28, 2012.
At the same time, we believe Mr. Biglari’s contradictory statements and actions create even more questions around his true objectives. In a press release last year, Mr. Biglari made the following statements:
“Our intention was that even if we were to purchase additional stock, we would keep ownership well under 20% . . . . [W]e have purchased stock for investment purposes only.” (BH press release, 9/23/11)
Despite these assertions, Biglari Holdings (1) ran a proxy fight last year for one Board seat, (2) immediately after losing the proxy fight, began aggressively buying more Cracker Barrel stock, and (3) launched a new proxy fight this year, seeking two Board seats this time. We believe these actions speak louder than words, as investors who are buying for “investment purposes only” do not wage multiple proxy contests, particularly at a time when the target corporation is performing as well as we are. With a position that recently reached 17.4%, Biglari Holdings is getting very close to a 20% stake in Cracker Barrel.
With Mr. Biglari’s history of creeping control – having built Biglari Holdings with the takeover of Steak ’n Shake without paying a premium to its shareholders, naming himself as Chairman and CEO, and ultimately creating a holding company named after himself – we are concerned as to what step would be next should he get a seat or two on our Board. We urge you to consider whether Mr. Biglari’s history suggests an undisclosed agenda here and whether he and Phil Cooley are right for our Board.
Second, we believe Mr. Biglari’s track record of poor corporate governance tactics speaks for itself.
While your revitalized Board of Directors at Cracker Barrel has been overseeing a variety of
successful initiatives to drive increasing shareholder value, Mr. Biglari has been pursuing
initiatives at Biglari Holdings that appear to have been objectionable even to his own shareholders. Consider the following three proposed actions that have all been deferred and/or amended in the face of shareholder opposition:
Mr. Biglari attempted to get shareholder approval for an uncapped compensation scheme for himself, a deal similar to the profit-sharing compensation plans often used at hedge funds and private equity investment firms, even though he runs a publicly traded restaurant holding company. Mr. Biglari scaled back the plan only after both ISS and his shareholders expressed their disapproval.
Disenfranchising capital structure.
Mr. Biglari is once again proposing shareholder approval of a two-class capital structure so he can make acquisitions that don’t dilute his voting power – after canceling a planned shareholder meeting to consider the plan last year in response to shareholder objections. The top two leading proxy advisory firms, ISS and Glass Lewis, have already recommended that Biglari Holdings shareholders vote against this proposal.
Reverse stock splits to freeze out small shareholders.
Mr. Biglari engineered a 1-for-20 reverse stock split, and announced plans in 2011 for a further 1-for-15 reverse stock split that would have forced many small investors to be cashed out from their shares. The second reverse stock split was tabled following shareholder opposition.
In addition, we believe that Mr. Biglari showed a disregard for federal law in causing Biglari Holdings to acquire Cracker Barrel stock in violation of applicable antitrust law. Biglari Holdings paid $850,000 to settle charges brought by the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice with respect to this violation, which the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission characterized as an abuse of the antitrust law’s “passive investment” exemption.