DavidsTea co-founder’s proxy battle goes cyber with launch of website

MONTREAL — A new front has opened up in the proxy battle for DavidsTea after the company’s founder launched a website as part of his effort to gain control of the embattled beverage retailer.

Rainy Day Investments Ltd., the holding company of co-founder Herschel Segal, launched a website site called savedtea.com to summarize its turnaround plan.

The firm had previously eyed taking DavidsTea private, but said in March that it won’t proceed with plans for a privatization transaction and had no plans to sell its shares.

The investment firm, which owns about 46 per cent of the Montreal-based company’s outstanding shares, has proposed a slate of seven nominees to the board.

The battle will be decided at DavidsTea’s annual meeting June 14.

A spokeswoman for DavidsTea said Thursday it is reviewing the website to ensure it doesn’t “violate copyright or misappropriate DavidsTea’s brand identity.”

“The dissident’s actions underscore our concern that Mr. Segal believes he controls this company and intends to take control of the board without paying shareholders a premium for that,” she said in a statement.

Segal said in a news release that the current board, from which he resigned in March, is wasting time, resources and shareholder money exploring strategic alternatives to sell all or part of the company.

“Urgent action is needed now to put DavidsTea back on the path to growth and long-term success for the benefit of all shareholders,” he said.

DavidsTea has been publicly traded since June 2015, when it listed on the Nasdaq stock market as part of an expansion plan. It has 240 tea shops across Canada and the United States.

The company announced in December 2017 that its board was considering strategic alternatives such as a potential financing, refinancing or restructuring after posting poor results, especially in the United States.

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