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The public battle between Ackman and the board chairman has had spectators from all sides weighing in, including Howard Schultz, Starbucks founder and CEO. During a phone interview with The Associated Press late Thursday, Schultz defended Ullman, who serves as a member of Starbucks board, and lambasted Ackman.
He told The Associated Press that he had never seen anything like this scenario where a board member leaks a letter and doesn’t even have the courtesy to speak directly to Ullman. He said he found it "perverse" that Ackman was pushing for new management when he was the one who pushed the board to hire Johnson, a move that had disastrous consequences.
"Mike has been working tirelessly to save the company," Schultz said.
In the letter released Friday, Ackman acknowledged that making public his letter Thursday was "an extraordinary step."
"In my history as a board member of many public companies over the last 15 years, I have never before released a public letter to a board of which I was a current member," he wrote. But he said he used it as "the last resort" after trying to negotiate a resolution of his concerns about the recruitment process.
Citi Investment Research analyst Deborah Weinswig reiterated in a note published Friday that she believes J.C. Penney needs a "dream team" in order to turn its fortunes around and she says "time is of the essence." Weinswig, once a cheerleader of the company, downgraded the stock to "Sell" from "Neutral" last week.
The squabble comes ahead of Plano, Texas-based Penney’s second-quarter results scheduled to be released Aug. 20.
Shares fell 91 cents, or 6.7 percent, to $12.75 after rising nearly the same amount Thursday. Earlier in the day they touched a 52-week low of $12.34.
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