Zendesk is in settlement talks with activist investor Jana

Zen office Inc.

ZEN -4.92%

is in talks to settle with activist investor Jana Partners LLC, days after the software company ended an unsuccessful bid to sell itself.

Zendesk and Jana are discussing a truce that could involve the resignation of Mikkel Svane as chief executive of the software company, as well as changes to the board of directors, including the removal of director Carl Bass, according to people close. folder. The situation is still fluid and the men could still stay in their roles, some people said.

A deal could be reached within weeks, assuming the talks don’t collapse, the people said.

Mr. Bass, former President and CEO of Autodesk Inc.,

is the lead independent director of Zendesk as well as the chair of the compensation committee of the board of directors.

Jana, who owns a roughly 2.5% stake in Zendesk, according to FactSet, has been fidgeting at the company since the start of the year. The Wall Street Journal reported in February that a group of private equity firms had approached a takeover of Zendesk that would make it worth around $17 billion. Zendesk’s market value was around $7 billion based on Tuesday’s closing price after the tech and other stocks sold off sharply.

Zendesk shares rose about 5% in after-hours trading after the Journal reported on settlement talks.

Zendesk shareholders later rejected its proposed acquisition of SurveyMonkey parent Momentive Global Inc. by a wide margin, forcing the company to drop out of what would have been a roughly $4.1 billion deal. .

The company had recently been in advanced talks with a private equity consortium for weeks, people familiar with the matter said. But those talks have stalled, and the company said Thursday it was ending its strategic review and remaining independent.

Jana had criticized Momentive’s deal and appointed four directors to Zendesk’s board. The activist could still fight a proxy battle if settlement talks fail. He had previously urged Zendesk to set a date for its annual meeting before the June deadline and said he was ready to move on if necessary. Zendesk has since set the meeting for August 17.

Zendesk specializes in helping businesses with customer communications and says on its website that it has more than 160,000 paid accounts and more than 6,000 employees. It was founded in 2007 and is based in San Francisco.

Write to Dana Cimilluca at [email protected] and Cara Lombardo at [email protected]

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Appeared in the June 15, 2022 print edition as “Software Maker Zendesk in Talks With Activist”.


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