Future of Sears Stores Subject of Disagreement
CHICAGO (AP) - Shareholder activist Robert Monks lost his bid for a seat on the Sears, Roebuck and Co. board of directors Thursday as shareholders re-elected Chairman Edward A. Brennan and two other management candidates, the company said.
Sears said in a late afternoon statement that while certified results were not yet available, a preliminary tally ``clearly'' showed Brennan and directors Sybil C. Mobley and Edgar B. Stern Jr. won new three-year terms at the company's annual meeting.
Calls to Monks' office for comment were not immediately answered. Earlier in the day, he questioned the legitimacy of the election process because it prevented owners of about 80 million of Sears' 344 million shares from voting for him.
The shares are owned by Sears employees through profit-sharing plans. The company's election rules allowed the employees to instruct trustees of the plans to vote their shares for the boardnominated candidates or to abstain, but not to vote for Monks.
``The decision that is reached will be one that I personally doubt the legitimacy of,'' Monks told a news conference before the outcome of the vote was announced.
The profit-sharing fund's four trustees, two of whom are Sears directors, did not reveal how those shares were voted. They said in a statement they cast the fund's votes ``among the candidates in the manner which ... would maximize benefits to participants of the trust.''
Monks is a former Labor Department official and head of Washington-based Institutional Shareholder Partners Inc. His major complaint was that the directors of Sears and other large corporations do not pay enough attention to shareholders.
He told reporters Thursday his campaign had inspired Sears stockholders to speak up and forced Brennan to listen.
``Whatever happens to my candidacy, Sears, Roebuck has been changed,'' he said.
Brennan told a news conference he did not believe the retailing and financial services conglomerate had been changed by Monks' unusual campaign.
He conceded, however, the company's commitment to seek more investor input on future board nominations probably was in response to Monks.
Monks said Sears' biggest problem is that its directors are nominated by a committee headed by Brennan, so that the board works for Brennan instead of the other way around. …