Competitive operator XO Holdings (news, filings) lost its top officer today. Carl Grivner has announced his resignation as CEO, President, and Director after eight years, saying he intends to pursue other opportunities. Grivner took over when Icahn bought the company out of bankruptcy after the last bubble, and has led it ever since. He won’t be going far initially though, as he has agreed to assist the company during the transition as the board searches for a new CEO.
But it’s not about Grivner, it never has been. Everything that happens at XO derives from Icahn, who recently made another bid to buy out minority shareholders. The company has not yet responded but yesterday brought in JP Morgan as an advisor to the special committee, something one would have thought they might have done two months ago. Some of the various shareholder lawsuits are also reaching a critical point after years of delay, and the new bid is certainly going to get scrutiny from the courts right off the bat. Grivner’s departure suggests the holding pattern the company has been in for so many years is finally coming to an end.
There doesn’t seem to be any other M&A activity, and in fact Icahn’s bid said he wouldn’t consider selling to another party. One of the special committee members looking at Icahn’s bid has already resigned from it, apparently under some pressure though it’s hard to tell from whom. It’s going to be difficult to find a replacement willing to walk into the crossfire that currently awaits any successor to Grivner. A turning point then, but what lies around the corner remains hidden. Any suggestions?