Those shareholders who are following the attempt by Sessa Capital to take control of Ashford Hospitality Prime (NYSE:AHP) will find today’s revelation very interesting – and give yet another reason shareholders of AHP stock should not vote in the Sessa Capital slate but instead keep present AHP stock management in place.
By coincidence, I discovered that prepaid debt card company Green Dot (NASDAQ:GDOT) is also undergoing a proxy fight. An activist investor, a hedge fund named Harvest Capital Strategies, just happens to have put up a familiar name as a director for the Board—
Philip B. Livingston.
That would be the same Philip B. Livingston that Sessa Capital has put up for its Board of Directors.
Why is Sessa Capital putting up Philip B. Livingston to run AHP, a hotel company, when he has zero hotel experience? Moreover, Philip B. Livingston has no apparent experience in the highly-specialized arena of prepaid debit cards, which must make GDOT shareholders puzzled.
Philip B. Livingston, in my opinion, meets the very definition of a “Rent-A-Director” – an executive who can be plucked from obscurity to serve on an activist’s slate of nominees, just so there’s a warm body that can be manipulated. He doesn’t actually have to be qualified.
Is Philip B. Livingston a wunderkind Board candidate or something? Not according to my research, which instead shows Philip B. Livingston was CEO of Ambassadors Group, and ran the company into the ground. When Philip B. Livingston took over as CEO, the stock cratered from $4.15 to $1.75 and the company was liquidated. Philip B. Livingston still picked up $750,000 in compensation during his 18 month tenure.
Sessa Capital could not be more transparent in its cynicism to gain control of AHP stock. AHP management today has gone public, offering a settlement with Sessa Capital. The settlement offer is very reasonable. Let’s see what transpires.