Just Eat Takeaway is facing turmoil in the boardroom after a senior executive resigned amid an investigation by the messaging group into a formal complaint about misconduct at a company event.
Just Eat’s board said it would not put Jörg Gerbig, its chief operating officer, up for re-election at the company’s annual meeting of shareholders on Wednesday, as it was to hire an “outside expert” to conduct an investigation into “possible personal misconduct”.
Group chairman Adriaan Nühn also announced plans to step down shortly before the group’s annual shareholder meeting, as the delivery company faced shareholder anger over a failed takeover deal and heavy losses.
The company said an investigation into the complaint against Gerbig, which it said was “not related to financial or reporting obligations,” was at an early stage and no conclusions had been drawn.
Just Eat said the confidential nature of its whistleblower policy and “the requirement for a thorough process, recognizing the privacy and interests of all involved” meant that “no additional information can be provided at this time”.
The company did not disclose which company event the complaint referred to. Just Eat recently came under fire for running a lavish ski trip for more than 5,000 employees, dubbed Snow Fest, in Arosa, Switzerland, last month at a reported cost of €15m (£12.6m).
Gerbig is fully cooperating with the investigation and has informed Just Eat’s board of directors that he has “full confidence in the outcome.”
He will step down as a member of the group’s board of directors from the close of the group’s annual meeting on Wednesday, and Just Eat said it would provide a further update on the investigation “if and when appropriate”.
Nühn also unexpectedly announced plans to retire. as he said it was “clear that shareholders have concerns about the challenges facing the company”.
Just Eat faced a shareholder revolt at its annual meeting after revealing declining orders and plans to sell all or part of its US division Grubhub, which it bought for $7.3 billion in a deal agreed less than two years ago and completed last year. The company recently disclosed a pre-tax loss of more than €1.1bn (£916m) for 2021, although it said it was “progressing rapidly towards profitability”.
Just Eat’s second largest shareholder, US fund Cat Rock, has called for a reshuffle of the company’s board of directors and has claimed there has been a “total loss of confidence” on the part of investors, as the value of its shares have plummeted by 75%. in two years.
In an open letter to other shareholders, Cat Rock called on them to block the re-election of Just Eat’s CFO and replace its supervisory board to “restore credibility in the capital markets” and “rapidly refocus the business in Europe.”
He said at Wednesday’s meeting that a Grubhub sale “has to happen, and it has to happen fast.”
Another shareholder, Pieter Taselaar, a founding partner of Lucerne Capital Management, said shareholders had lost faith in the management and called for a “complete strategic review of all assets,” Reuters reported.
After the meeting, Just Eat said resolutions were passed to re-elect all directors that had been put up for a vote, including CEO Jitse Groen and CFO Brent Wissink.