By Aisha Al-Muslim
This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (March 15, 2018).
Activist investor Carl Icahn has enlisted the help of former technology executive John Visentin to help prepare for a proxy fight with Xerox Corp. and to explore strategic alternatives for the printer and copier maker.
Mr. Icahn reached out to Mr. Visentin as a consultant to help with those processes, part of his pushback against a deal Xerox struck with Fujifilm Holdings Corp. in January that would mash Xerox together with a Fuji-Xerox joint venture and give the Japanese company control of the new entity.
In an open letter from Mr. Icahn to Xerox shareholders published Wednesday, Mr. Icahn said Mr. Visentin is an "operating executive with a superb track record, specifically when it comes to revamping complex operations with prior managerial shortcomings in the IT services industry."
Mr. Icahn has said Xerox would benefit from new management and has alluded that its executives should have some of the qualities he mentioned Mr. Visentin has.
In response to Mr. Icahn's letter, a Xerox spokesman pointed to a previous letter the company wrote outlining the value of the deal.
Mr. Visentin previously managed business units as an executive at Hewlett-Packard Co. and International Business Machines Corp. He recently was in charge of transformations for Apollo Global Management portfolio companies Novitex Enterprise Solutions, where he was executive chairman and chief executive, and Presidio, where he was chairman, according to the letter.
Mr. Icahn and fellow billionaire Darwin Deason, who together control about 15% of Xerox stock, have opposed the deal with Fujifilm and are working together to fight it. They both have said they would vote against the deal, that they would wage a proxy fight against Xerox and that they have asked it to explore a sale.
Xerox has defended the deal and said the investors are mischaracterizing it. The company said the agreement with Fuji followed a yearlong review of alternatives for its struggling business and that it delivers significantly more value to Xerox shareholders than moving the company forward on a stand-alone basis.
When the deal was announced Jan. 31, Xerox and Fujifilm said it was expected to close in the second half of this year.
Write to Aisha Al-Muslim at email@example.com