Shaquille O'Neal Approved for Reelection to Papa John's Board as ISS Reverses Stand

Proxy firm Institutional Shareholder Services reverses its stand and supports the reelection of NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal to the Papa John's board.
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A proxy firm that had called on holders not to reelect Shaquille O’Neal to the board of Papa John's  (PZZA) - Get Report did a turnaround and expressed support for the basketball legend's reelection.

Institutional Shareholder Services had called upon Papa John's holders to oust O'Neal from the board for missing meetings.

ISS had alleged that O'Neal attended less than 75% of board meetings over the past year. Due to that record, the firm was suggesting that holders oppose his reelection in a shareholder vote scheduled for April 23. 

Papa John's had said in a proxy filing ahead of the April 23 annual meeting that the NBA star had been unable to attend several board meetings due to business and broadcasting commitments made prior to his appointment as a director. 

Papa John's also said those scheduling conflicts are not expected to recur in 2020. 

“Given that O’Neal’s poor attendance occurred during the year he was appointed to the board, support for O’Neal’s reelection is now considered warranted,” ISS said in the revised report on Tuesday. No other recommendations were changed.

O'Neal, who joined the board a year ago, had been the only member of Papa John's board to receive the adverse recommendation from ISS. 

The company had earlier said that O'Neal was joining the board as part of a broader plan to rejuvenate the Louisville, Ky., pizza chain’s image. 

O’Neal signed a three-year endorsement deal with the chain, after its founder and former chairman and chief executive, John Schnatter, stepped down after sparking controversy over racially charged statements.

Schnatter stepped down as CEO in 2017 and resigned as chairman in January 2019.

Shares of Papa John's at last check were 7% to $53.07.

The stock has been one of the beneficiaries of the coronavirus pandemic over the past couple of weeks as people stay home and order in.