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Tyson Foods urged to launch external review of finance chief's arrest

Stock Markets Nov 14, 2022 04:39PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of Tyson Foods is seen in Davos, Switzerland, May 22, 2022. Picture taken May 22, 2022. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo
 
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By Tom Polansek

CHICAGO (Reuters) -Tyson Foods Inc should hire an external firm to lead a review into Chief Financial Officer John R. Tyson's recent arrest, corporate governance experts said on Monday, after the company announced its own board members would oversee the matter.

Tyson, the great-grandson of the meat company's founder, apologized on a quarterly earnings call for his Nov. 6 arrest for criminal trespassing and public intoxication in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

He is also the son of the company's board chairman, John H. Tyson.

John R. Tyson's arrest came as Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN) is grappling with rising expenses for labor, transportation and livestock, and working to maintain customer demand for high-priced meat.

"I'm embarrassed and I want to let you know that I take full responsibility for my action," said Tyson, 32.

A college-age female was alarmed to have found Tyson, whom she did not know, asleep in her bed on returning home, according to a Fayetteville police report. The police report cited "Tyson's unlawful presence in a house, where he was not invited, paired with the odor of intoxicants, and his general demeanor when confronted by uniformed officers."

Tyson Foods said a three-member governance committee on the board of directors will lead its review process. According to the company's website, the committee members are Les Baledge, former Tyson Foods general counsel; former Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe; and David Bronczek, former FedEx Corp (NYSE:FDX) president.

"Our independent board of directors are overseeing a thorough review of this matter, and I'm confident in this independent process," Chief Executive Donnie King said.

But experts urged Tyson Foods to hire an external firm because of John R. Tyson's deep family connections to the company.

"The board should send a strong signal that independence is important and publicly appoint an external adviser to conduct the review," said Paolo Volpin, a finance professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Philip Cochran, a management professor at Indiana University, said company investors and John R. Tyson would benefit from an external review.

"It's certainly not going to clear him, at least in the public's mind, if it's done simply by the board of Tyson Foods," Cochran said. "There's too much potential for this to be seen as a conflict of interest."

Tyson Foods urged to launch external review of finance chief's arrest
 

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John McFarlin III Nov 14, 2022 11:01AM ET
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