Wal-Mart shrinks board to 12, founder's son to retire

Wed Apr 20, 2016 7:49pm EDT
 
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By Nathan Layne

(Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc said on Wednesday it will shrink its board by three members to 12, bringing it closer to U.S. corporate norms in a move the largest U.S. retailer hopes would allow it to respond more nimbly to rapid market changes.

The change will take place after Wal-Mart's annual shareholders' meeting on June 3, it said in a statement.

The revamp includes the retirement of Jim Walton, 67, the youngest son of late Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, after 11 years on the board, the retailer said. His son Steuart, 34, has been nominated for a board seat.

Also departing are Aida Alvarez, a former member of U.S. President Bill Clinton's cabinet, retail industry veteran Roger Corbett, and Mike Duke, who was Wal-Mart's chief executive from 2009 to 2014.

Wal-Mart, which posted a double-digit profit decline last year as the dollar appreciated and costs rose as it hiked entry-level wages, said a smaller board would lead to better and faster decision-making.

The average board size for companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index was 10.8 last year, according to the Spencer Stuart board index.

"The changes we are making are designed to maximize our effectiveness as we adapt to ever-evolving customer requirements," James Cash, lead independent director, said in the statement.

Both Alvarez, 66, a member of the auditing committee, and Corbett, 73, the former CEO of Australian retailer Woolworths Ltd, had been on the board for a decade, the normal tenure for independent directors, Wal-Mart said.   Continued...

 
The Wal-Mart company logo is seen outside a Wal-Mart Stores Inc company distribution center in Bentonville, Arkansas June 6, 2013.  REUTERS/Rick Wilking