ISS recommends SpartanNash investors elect two dissident candidates to board

Proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) on Friday recommended SpartanNash Co's (SRJ) shareholders elect two of hedge fund Macellum Advisors and Ancora Advisors director nominees to the food distributor and grocery retailer's board.

The two hedge funds, which own 4.5% of the company, are trying to replace three of the company's nine board members, arguing the company needs to improve its competitiveness and consider a full or partial sale.

ISS, which often guides how investors vote, said shareholders should elect retail industry executives Michael Lewis and John Fleming. The hedge funds also nominated Jonathan Duskin, Macellum's portfolio manager, as a director candidate but ISS did not recommend for his election saying it was more important to add operational and industry expertise instead of a shareholder representative.

"Two new board members with industry experience should be a sufficiently large number to guard against their voices and views becoming drowned out by the other directors," ISS wrote.

The hedge funds hope to replace the chairman, audit committee chair and nominating and governance committee chair.

A representative for the company declined to comment and a representative for the hedge funds did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

SpartanNash, which is based in Byron Center, Michigan and has a market value of $1.3 billion, owns 145 supermarkets, primarily under the banners of Family Fare, Martin's Super Markets and D&W Fresh Market and operates commissaries for the U.S. military.

SpartanNash refreshed its board earlier this year after appointing Tony Sarsam as its CEO in 2020. But ISS wrote that if the company had brought in new directors with grocery or food distribution experience at the time, the "proxy campaign might not have gone forward."

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