Tyson Foods launches board review over new CFO’s arrest

The board of Tyson Foods has launched a review of the conduct of the company’s new chief financial officer, who was charged this month with public intoxication and trespassing after a woman found him asleep in her bed.

John Randal Tyson’s arrest in Arkansas came just weeks after his promotion to the CFO job sparked concern from analysts and investors over the depth of his experience. He is the 32-year-old son of Tyson chair John H Tyson and the great-grandson of the founder of the American meat-processing company.

Tyson Foods is the largest meatpacking company in the US, with plants able to slaughter tens of millions of chickens and hundreds of thousands of pigs and cattle a week. While publicly listed, the company is controlled by the Tyson family through supervoting shares. It had earlier called the arrest “a personal matter”.

Donnie King, chief executive, disclosed the board review midway through an investor call to discuss Tyson’s quarterly results on Monday.

“The company takes this matter seriously,” he said. “Our independent board of directors are overseeing a thorough review of this matter and I am confident in this independent process.”

The review will be conducted by the board’s governance committee, which is comprised of directors independent of the family. Asked in a press conference about the scope of the review and whether the committee had engaged outside lawyers, King declined to give any further details.

Tyson was arrested in the early hours of November 6. The police report said they received a call from a woman who had “returned to her home and located an unknown and unwelcome male sleeping inside her bedroom”. Officers, who identified him by finding his ID in his clothes on the floor, struggled to wake him and found him to be intoxicated.

“I’m embarrassed and I want to let you know I take full responsibility for my actions,” Tyson said on Monday’s earnings call, after presenting the quarterly results. “I apologise to our investors as I have to our employees. This incident was inconsistent with our company values ​​as well as my personal values. I’m committed to making sure it never happens again.”

Tyson joined the family business as chief sustainability officer in 2019 shortly after getting an MBA, having started his career in finance with stints including at JPMorgan Chase. He was promoted in September and the existing CFO, Stewart Glendinning moved to run the prepared foods business.

On the earnings call, Robert Moskow, analyst at Credit Suisse, said the company usually put executives with brand management experience in charge of prepared foods and “people into the CFO role who have 20-plus years experience in the finance track, and this reshuffle did the opposite”.

King defended the chair’s son’s suitability for the role.

“John Randal has had experience outside of Tyson, escalating levels of responsibility in banking and venture capital, and within Tyson for the last four years he’s led M&A strategy, ventures and other areas of the company — and don’t forget he’s been involved in this business essentially his whole life.”

Tyson Foods’s revenues in the year just ended were up 13 per cent to $53.3bn, but net income rose just 6 per cent to $3.3bn. The results showed the impact of inflation on the business, with increasing costs and indications that customers were shunning the most expensive cuts of beef, but the company also forecast sales in its new fiscal year will be above Wall Street expectations.

Additional reporting by Peter Wells in New York

Leave a Comment