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Investor goes after SeaChange's chairman-CEO

Wed, 09/15/2010 - 8:05am
Brian Santo

One of SeaChange International's largest investors is insisting that SeaChange Chairman and CEO Bill Styslinger give up one of those titles.

Ramius is disappointed that SeaChange has turned down multiple offers to buy its old servers and storage business and is dissatisfied with margin performance in what is now the company's core software business.

In addition to demanding separating board and management by stripping Styslinger of one title or the other, Ramius is demanding SeaChange sell the server business, specifically that it hire "a nationally recognized investment bank to explore all strategic options to maximize value for shareholders and to reevaluate the decision not to sell the company's Servers and Storage business."

This is another escalation of the pressure applied on SeaChange by Ramius. Earlier in the year, it forced two of its proxies onto the SeaChange board.

Ramius is also demanding that a committee of independent directors evaluate the company's "operational, financial and strategic objectives."

Ramius managing director Peter Feld said: "For too long, senior management has failed to achieve its stated financial targets. It is [the board's] responsibility to ensure that senior management either makes good on its commitments to shareholders or is held accountable for its failures."

SeaChange acknowledged receipt of the letter. Styslinger's statement was: "The board of directors welcomes open dialogue and feedback from our shareholders and will carefully consider the matters raised by Ramius. The Board and management team are committed to undertaking actions with the shared goal of enhancing value for our shareholders, customers and employees."

Revenue from SeaChange's server operation has been steadily decreasing over several quarters. The company reported second-quarter earnings at the beginning of this month; it reported plans to "restructure" the unit.

At the same time, SeaChange also lowered projections for the rest of the year, citing decreased demand for VOD systems and unspecified customer delays.

Another Ramius investment, Microtune, was recently purchased by Zoran.

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