Will new blood pump life into Ruby Tuesday?

Ruby Tuesday's annual meeting is looking more and more interesting. Hedge fund Carlson ruby2.co%237728.jpgCapital recently bought 800,000 RT shares increasing its holdings in the Maryville-based casual dining chain to about 4.4 million shares, or 6.8 percent of shares outstanding.
Earlier this summer Carlson and Becker Drapkin Management announced they had formed a RT shareholder group and would nominate a slate of three independent directors to the company's board.
Their nominees: BPM founders Steven Becker and Matthew Drapkin and Michael Brodsky, co-CEO of Federated Sports & Gaming, a professional poker league.
Apparently wanting to avoid a possibly messy fight, Ruby Tuesday management quickly named Becker and Drapkin, to a newly expanded Ruby Tuesday board. In return, BPM agreed to withdraw its nominations.
Ruby Tuesday has stumbled a bit coming out of the Great Recession. Some new blood in the board room could be interesting.
RT Chairman and CEO Sandy Beall called the appointment of Becker and Drapkin "a win/win scenario which we believe is in the best interests of our shareholders.  ... Steve's and Matt's appointment to the Board will further enhance the quality of our corporate governance, in addition to bringing potential new ideas to the table given their previous Board experiences."
Becker and Drapkin are both directors of Hot Topic, a teen retailer, which recently predicted better-than-epected earnings for the year. It will be interesting to see what "new ideas" Becker and Drapkin actually bring to Ruby Tuesday, whose sales were down in the most recent quarter.
Ruby Tuesady's annual meeting is Oct. 5 at the Restaurant Support Center in Maryville, 150 W. Church Ave.
More on Ruby Tuesday and its new board members:
Restaurant Finance Monitor: Becker Drapkin Makes It Official
Forbes profile: Matthew A. Drapkin
Forbes profile: Steven R. Becker
Market Folly: Carlson Capital Goes Activist on Ruby Tuesday


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    Rant$ and Rave$ will comment on the good, bad and sometimes bizarre business news in East Tennessee and around the country. Rant$ and Raves is written by News Sentinel business reporter Roger Harris, who can be reached via email or (865) 342-6342.

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