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Ancora eyes Thomas Kingsbury as next Kohl's CEO

Kohl's board member Thomas Kingsbury.

Photo: Thos Robinson/Getty Images for K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers

Kohl's board member Thomas Kingsbury is among the candidates that activist investor Ancora Holdings is expected to push as a replacement for current CEO Michelle Gass, according to two sources familiar with the situation.

Why it matters: Ancora backing an internal candidate could improve its odds of success in its latest run at Kohl's.

Driving the news: Ancora, a hedge fund that holds a 2.5% stake in the company, issued a press release and a letter on Thursday demanding that the Kohl's board remove Gass and Chairman Peter Boneparth, citing the company's poor performance, among other factors.

  • Ancora did not name a CEO candidate, but said in the release that it wants the board to interview a "diverse group of qualified candidates" with turnaround experience in the retail sector.
  • One of the sources told Axios that Ancora will advocate for Kingsbury to be high on that list, given his knowledge of the company and his success as Burlington's CEO.
  • A second source said that Kingsbury could also be a candidate to replace Boneparth as Chairman.

What they're saying: In a statement to Axios, Kohl's said, "The Kohl’s Board unanimously supports Michelle Gass and her leadership team. We remain committed to maximizing value and acting in the interests of all our shareholders by staying focused on running the business, and the Board continues to actively engage with management to navigate the current retail environment."

Ancora declined to comment.

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