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Papa John's Adopts 'Poison Pill' to Keep Founder at Bay

Plan will prevent John Schnatter from securing a controlling stake in the company
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 23, 2018 7:21 AM CDT
This July 17, 2018, file photo, shows the corporate headquarters of Papa John's pizza located on their campus, in Louisville, Ky. Papa John’s is adopting a shareholder rights plan as it looks to safeguard...   (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)
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(Newser) – Papa John's is attempting to ward off its disgraced founder by adopting a poison-pill plan. The company is struggling to distance itself from John Schnatter, who resigned as chairman this month after his use of a racial slur during a media training session was revealed. He stepped down late last year as CEO after becoming enmeshed in the national anthem issue involving NFL players, saying it was hurting pizza sales. Schnatter, who founded the company in 1984 and has said his resignation was a mistake, is still the pizza chain's biggest shareholder. Papa John's said late Sunday it will put its shareholder rights plan in place for a year, reports the AP.

The plan would be activated if anyone acquires 15% or more of the company's outstanding shares without board approval. That would effectively prevent Schnatter, who holds 30% of all outstanding stock, from gaining a controlling stake in the company. The company said the plan won't keep its board from considering any offer that is fair and in the best interest of shareholders. Papa John's International Inc. has started scrubbing Schnatter's image from its marketing materials and has said it's evaluating all of its ties with him. Schnatter still serves as a board member. Shares of Papa John's International Inc. are down more than 30% over the past year.

(Read more Papa John's stories.)

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