Jana Partners, a New York-based hedge fund, disclosed on Oct. 26 it had trimmed its holdings in Jack in the Box, down to 1,831,007 shares from 2,050,325 shares during the second quarter. The activist investor also signed a confidentiality and standstill agreement in which the hedge fund agreed to keep confidential certain business information regarding the chain restaurant. The agreement expires on Dec. 14 unless the two parties terminate it sooner.
Jana Partners, led by Barry Rosenstein, reported taking a new stake in Jack in the Box during the quarter ending Sept. 30, 2017. Jana built up a 4.5 percent stake in the company by buying 1.32 million shares worth $134.2 million.
Jana is the same hedge fund that bought a $2 billion stake in Qualcomm Inc. in 2015 and then demanded the company make several changes, including cut expenses, change the composition of the board, get more aggressive with stock buybacks and split the business in two (to a chip-making unit and an intellectual property licensing house).
In December 2017, San Diego Business Journal reported that Jack in the Box was restructuring and had to do so in a way that pleases some recent hedge fund investors, including Eminence Capital LP, Jana Partners LLC and Starboard Value LP. Part of that included the selling of the fast-casual brand, Qdoba, to New York-based private equity fund, Apollo Global Management Group, for $305 million.
Earlier this month, the National Jack in the Box Franchisee Association asked the board of directors to remove the current leadership team, including CEO Leonard “Lenny” Comma, following a vote of no confidence that took place during its annual meeting in July. The move is a result of a “culmination of years of long-ranging discussions and unanswered concerns brought directly to Jack in the Box CEO Lenny Comma,” Michael Norwich, NFA board chairman, said in a statement.
Comma has been CEO of Jack in the Box since January 2014 and was previously the company’s chief operating officer.