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Hasbro sets up its game strategy with two new board members

A Hasbro Play-Doh set displayed at the New York Toy Fair in 2008. Photo: Getty Images

A Hasbro Play-Doh set displayed at the New York Toy Fair in 2008. Photo: Getty Images

Toymaker Hasbro has named two new members to its board, one week after news that the company had spurned efforts from an activist investor to add its own dissident director.

Why it matters: Hasbro's new directors, and their unique backgrounds, show investors that the company is bringing new blood to its board with gamer experience at a time when the activist, Alta Fox, is pushing for the spin off of Hasbro's Wizards of the Coast division.

Driving the news: The maker of Play-Doh and Dungeons & Dragons tapped Elizabeth Hamren, the COO of communication service Discord, a favorite among gamers who want to virtually gather, and Blake Jorgensen, the former CFO and COO of Electronic Arts, effective April 1.

  • The toy maker also filed its preliminary proxy on Monday, as it gears up to push back against Alta Fox's demands and chart its own course.

Flashback: Alta Fox nominated five directors to the company’s 11-member board in February.

  • Alta Fox had privately said it would settle for two new directors, as long as one of them was an Alta Fox nominee, according to Reuters.
  • Hasbro has so far rejected Alta Fox’s nominees, believing that it could refresh its own board with higher caliber and more relevant candidates than that of Alta’s, Reuters reported.

Reality check: Alta Fox is not a brand-name veteran activist fund, and will have to go a long way to convince index funds that it has the long-term interest of shareholders at its core, as Axios previously reported.

What they’re saying: Alta Fox said the company’s move was a “defensive and reactionary” expansion of its board, and that it did little to address its concerns.

  • Hasbro’s board has “chosen to force a costly, distracting and unnecessary election contest rather than collaborate with a sizable shareholder on a credible director refreshment process,” Alta Fox Managing Partner Connor Haley said.
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