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Activist investor drops proxy fight against Perry Ellis

The Perry Ellis spring 2012 collection is modeled during Fashion Week in New York.
The Perry Ellis spring 2012 collection is modeled during Fashion Week in New York. AP

An activist investor group dropped a bid to run its own candidates for the board of Perry Ellis International on Tuesday, ending a year-long proxy fight at the Doral-based retailer.

Legion Partners Holdings, a California-based hedge fund, had criticized the company for poor earnings and a lack of independent oversight from its corporate board.

But last week’s announcement that longtime CEO George Feldenkreis will step down in 2016, as well as the appointment of several independent directors, has mollified the investor group. Feldenkreis will stay on as executive chairman of the board. His son Oscar Feldenkreis will become CEO.

“We’re very satisfied that the activist investors have recognized that the company is on the right track,” said George Feldenkreis in a telephone interview.

Perry Ellis also nominated Bruce Klatsky, former chairman and CEO of the Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation, and Michael Rayden, former president and CEO of Tween Brands, to sit on its board.

“With the election of Messrs. Klatsky and Rayden at the annual meeting, the board will have replaced five long-tenured directors with five new independent directors in the past 18 months — an outcome we do not believe would have resulted without our active and ongoing involvement on behalf of all shareholders,” said Chris Kiper, managing partner at Legion, in a statement.

But Kiper also called for more changes at Perry Ellis, including an independent chairman, a CEO from outside the Feldenkreis family and one-year terms for directors.

Legion and its partner, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, a pension fund, together own about 6.3 percent of Perry Ellis stock.

The company’s 2015 annual meeting will take place on July 17.

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