Alta Fox Capital Management, which owns about 2.5% of Hasbro's stock, on Thursday called for a spinoff of the Wizards of the Coast gaming subsidiary, which owns Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering — a move it said could garner investors $100 per share. The firm has also nominated five candidates to the toy maker's board.
"We have attempted to collaborate with Hasbro, but it continues to cling to its failed 'Brand Blueprint' strategy," Alta Fox said in its press release. The firm slammed the plan as "an abject failure ... punctuated by ill-advised acquisitions, haphazard execution and poor disclosure practices."
Hasbro responded with a defense of its board as "highly qualified, independent, experienced and engaged," but said it would take up the nominations at its annual meeting, which has yet to be scheduled. The company also acknowledged in its release that it's been in talks with Alta Fox "to better understand its views."
Alta Fox isn't playing around — or, rather, it very much is.
The firm touted its five board nominees as having "corporate governance expertise, retail and consumer experience, strategic planning and transformation backgrounds, transaction skills and deep knowledge of the [Wizards of the Coast] universe."
Two of them appear to have spent quite a bit of time in that world. Specifically, Matthew Calkins, founder, chief executive officer and chairman of cloud platform Appian, is also "the author of several award-winning board games and has frequently been a top finisher at the World Boardgaming Championships," while Jon Finkel, managing partner and co-chief investment officer at Landscape Capital Management, plays Magic: The Gathering professionally and "is widely considered to be one of the greatest players of all time."
Hasbro's incoming CEO, Chris Cocks, who is set to take the job next week, is also well-versed in that universe, having spent the past five years as president and chief operating officer of it. Alta Fox said its board nominees are "particularly eager to provide insight and support" to Cocks.
Much of that insight would involve what Alta Fox sees as the shortcomings of Hasbro's Brand Blueprint. The firm provides an extensive critique of it in a 100-page document, available via a dedicated website, titled "Free the Wizards."
Hasbro has been working to reshape its strategy in an era where play goes far beyond toys. The pandemic has given toy demand a major lift but has also brought supply chain troubles that have cut into profits and delayed sales.
Under Cocks, however, the Wizards of the Coast doubled its revenue to $1 billion in 2021 and "focused on cooperative game play, expanding new digital initiatives and creating a robust workforce of back-end developers, digital designers, 3D artists and producers," according to Hasbro.