As we sit and wait for this chess game to play out I still have a serious concern about the motives of the Ventra Board & management. I do not want to impugn their integrity because my fear may be totally without justification and for that reason I am a little uncomfortable posting this. On the other hand I want the Board & management to know that nowadays shareholders are much more informed then in the past and will not be as easily fooled.
In a previous post I complained about how few shares the directors and management actually own (An embarrassingly low 167,840 shares). Ben Ciprietti & Noel Thomas, Directors since 1985, own a puny 28,000 and 13,000 shares respectively. James Lawn (He jumped ship) and Lanny Elliot (Fired), combined owned more shares than the entire Board. Board members also are given options (Current batch is 10,000 @ $2.12 per share) but still, even with discounted options, they own few of them. Do Board members not have confidence in this company? Board members are paid $12,000 per annum AND $1,000 per meeting for a minimum of $24,000 a year for a couple of hours work per month. I do not begrudge this because GOOD directors are worth their weight in gold. If the directors cannot benefit from selling the company but in fact, stand to lose, would they in good conscience do what is best for the shareholders?
Previously I stated that current management also stand to lose if the company is sold. Stanley Richards will NOT find a position as a CEO for a similar sized company. He is unproven at best. What harm can be done to shareholders you ask?
For starters, Ventra management may not pursue a complete sale of the company but may sell off the Plastics Division and use the money to pay down debt. I would be OK with this if I had the confidence in this group of managers. Are these the people who can turn this company around? I am not saying they could not. But I am also not sure they can.
Some of these people, like Stanley Richards, were around when all the bad decisions were being made. Did they have a negative role or was Ken Nichols acting alone. They bought half of Lunke and owned it for a year BEFORE they bought the other half. At the AGM Richards listed the mistakes that were made in the Lunke acquisition. Ventra did not realize that the contracts that Lunke had were under priced and that Lunke did not have the controls and systems in place to handle this higher volume. Well Richards and Nichols had an entire year to find this out. I can understand not knowing what you bought with the first 50% but there is no excuse for not knowing when you buy the rest.
Was it not Richard Stanley who was delegated with the responsibility of overseeing the turn around of the German operations? Nice job Rickard. Who made the recommendation to purchase Peterborough? Was that also Richard. I do not know if it was, but I do know he was there for it. Whose idea was it to move the door handle division to Camrose, creating all the finishing problems and thereby insuring Camrose’s demise. Was that Richard? He was there at the time. Who’s idea to move the engineering department from cheap low cost Windsor, to a much more expensive Rochester Hills? Whose idea to build a new Polish plant that opened just in time to go into receivership?
I am not saying all these bad moves were Richard’s fault but I am saying that he was there at the time and may have been influential. In time he may turn out to be a very good CEO but in the meantime he is UNPROVEN at best and maybe incompetant.
I would like Ventra to be sold as a continuing entity to proven managers, or, broken and sold off in pieces. In either case, the employees and shareholders need to have proven leadership so they will have a future with the company. Shareholders need to be compensated for their long-suffering patience. Directors and management need to do what is right and not be self-serving. More and more I am hoping Ken Nichols or Nesbitt Burns will succeed in bringing in a buyer.
I know I will ruffle a few feathers with this post so let the flaming begin. No problem if you wish to attack someone’s ideas, just no need to get personal, although I could care less what people think of me. I do want others to feel free to post whatever their opinions are and not be intimidated off this board.
Hope everyone had a Great Easter weekend. Take care.