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Iron Mountain caves in to investors

Stockholders appeased

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Iron Mountain's returning CEO has moved quickly to reach an accommodation with activist investor Elliot Management, being willing to sell-off the digital business, close unprofitable international operations, return cash to shareholders, and evaluate becoming a REIT.

Scenting that stockholder opinion was in line with that of Elliot Management in wanting no more wasteful ventures, Richard Reese, the replacement and returning Iron Mountain CEO, has agreed a comprehensive strategic plan that meets Elliot's concerns. It includes:

  • Supporting an Elliot nominee director at the 2011 annual meeting, and an independent director agreed with Elliot after that meeting
  • Returning $2.2bn to stock holders through 2013
  • Looking at alternatives for the digital business including selling it off
  • Closing unprofitable international operations but growing the profitable ones and ones with realistic prospects
  • Forming a board committee to evaluate Iron Mountain becoming a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) and hopefully thereby lowering its tax burden.

This course of action implies that Iron Mountain's Mimosa acquisition was a waste of cash. Possible buyers for the digital business are few. EMC's VMware operation, now running EMC's cloud IT services business, might be interested as might cloud storage provider Nirvanix.

The previous executive management's strategy has now been found wanting and Iron Mountain reminded that building shareholder value means exactly that; the board must not be an executive management team's poodle. ®

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