Business / Corporate

Japan's Seven& I Holdings to promote Isaka to president

Bloomberg, Kyodo

Seven & I Holdings Co. is poised to promote Ryuichi Isaka, head of its Seven-Eleven Japan Co. convenience store unit, to president of the holding company after activist investor Daniel Loeb intervened in an attempt to oust him, a person familiar with the matter said.

The Seven & I nomination committee endorsed Isaka, 58, in a meeting Friday. The endorsement is expected to be approved by a board of directors’ gathering Tuesday, said the source, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. Hirotake Henmi, a company spokesman, confirmed the meetings and said nothing has been decided.

Seven & I’s board last week came one vote short of passing a plan by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Toshifumi Suzuki to remove Isaka. The parent company is now losing its top executive of more than a decade, with Suzuki saying he will resign after the board rejected the 83-year-old’s bid to remove his subordinate.

Loeb, whose Third Point LLC first disclosed an investment in Seven & I in October, has called for the nation’s largest retailer to restructure or divest less profitable units and said last month Isaka should be a leading candidate to take over the group.

In Loeb’s letter to the Japanese company’s board dated March 27, the billionaire investor said Seven-Eleven Japan has delivered outsized results for shareholders and that Isaka “should be rewarded — not demoted — for his performance and commitment.”

Seven & I fell as much as 2.2 percent in Tokyo trading, amid a broader slump in Japanese stocks as investors weighed the fallout from Thursday’s earthquake in Kumamoto that has killed at least nine and injured hundreds.