Activist investor Blackwells Capital on Monday called on the board of exercise equipment maker Peloton Interactive Inc to remove Chief Executive John Foley and start a sale process as the fortunes of the pandemic winner start to wane.
Foley is "ill-suited to lead company and must be removed", the investment firm founded by Jason Aintabi said in a letter to the board, asking it to begin the sale process to maximize the value of Peloton's brand, team, customer base and technology.
Peloton, whose shares were down 3.4% in premarket trading, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Blackwell is urging Peloton to consider a sale to a company like Walt Disney Co, Apple Inc, Sony Group or Nike Inc, Reuters had reported on Sunday.
The coronavirus pandemic turned Peloton, which offers stationary bikes and treadmills with livestreamed workouts from popular instructors, into one of the market's hottest stocks.
But its stock price has plummeted 84% in the last year and it is now valued at roughly $8 billion compared to $50 billion at the peak of its popularity.
"The company is on worse footing today than it was prior to the pandemic, with high fixed costs, excessive inventory, a listless strategy, dispirited employees and thousands of disgruntled shareholders," Blackwells said.
The letter from the activist investor comes close on the heels of a CNBC report which said Peloton was temporarily halting the production of its bikes and treadmills amid lower demand.
Even though Foley, who has been leading the company for nearly a decade, dismissed the report as false, the news caused the stock price of Peloton to tumble 24% on Thursday, wiping off $2.5 billion from its market value.
According to the company's website, Foley started off as an engineer in 1990 for Mars Inc and prior to that was president of bookseller Barnes and Noble.
(Reporting by Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Arun Koyyur) ((Aishwarya.Nair@thomsonreuters.com; +91-8067494421;))