Just Eat COO under investigation for misconduct at company event

Mr Jorg Gerbig will no longer be up for reappointment as COO at the Just Eat's AGM on May 4. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Just Eat Takeaway.com is facing a full-scale crisis after the company launched an internal investigation into its chief operating officer (COO), and its chairman stepped down after an investor revolt. 

Jorg Gerbig will no longer be up for reappointment as COO at its annual general meeting today, after a complaint over personal misconduct at a company event, according to a statement on Wednesday (May 4). No further details were provided. 

Chairman Adriaan Nuhn will also not be up for reappointment, after major shareholder proxy services criticized the board’s gender diversity and governance. Both Mr Gerbig and Mr Nuhn will leave the board immediately. Corinne Vigreux will take over as chair on an interim basis.

The announcements plunge the food delivery company into further chaos. Its shares have fallen 46.4 per cent year to date, dropping a further 2.8 per cent in early trading in Amsterdam on Wednesday. 

Just Eat has recently faced criticism for holding a company-wide annual skiing trip. Some 5,400 staffers arrived at the village of Arosa, Switzerland, for four-day shifts on the slopes at the event last month, at a time when investors were publicity attacking the company’s strategy. 

“It is clear that shareholders have concerns about the challenges the company is facing,” Mr Nuhn said in the statement. “Not seeking re-election is, I believe, the best decision I can take with regard to serving the interests of the company.”

The share-price collapse is a dramatic reversal for CEO Jitse Groen, who founded his company in 2000 as a college student before dropping out. Previously worth just over 17 billion euros (S$24.7  billion) in 2021 due to a boost from the pandemic, its market value has fallen to just 5.5 billion euros.

Just Eat said in April that it’s exploring a sale for Grubhub, less than a year after completing an acquisition for it worth US$7.3 billion (S$10.1 billion) The company also pared its projections for growth this year in a late April report, and said orders on its platform rose less than expected at the start of 2022.

Activist investor Cat Rock Capital Management, which owns about 6.9 per cent of Just Eat, has recently urged shareholders to vote against the delivery company’s chief financial officer Brent Wissink and supervisory board at the AGM citing a “complete loss of trust” in management. 

Other investors such as Lucerne Capital Management have also said they plan to vote against Just Eat’s CFO and supervisory board.

Major shareholder proxy services Institutional Shareholder Services  and Glass Lewis have also recommended voting against the re-election of supervisory board chairman Nuhn over the board’s gender diversity, and environmental and social governance, respectively. 

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