Activist investor Richard C. Breeden and a partner in his investment fund have joined Zale Corp.’s board of directors.
Breeden, former chairman of the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, is the chief executive officer and chief investment officer of Breeden Partners and its manager Breeden Capital Management. Also joining the board is James M. Cotter, a founding partner of Breeden Capital Management and senior managing director of Richard C. Breeden & Co.
Their appointments became effective Thursday, expanding the board from six to eight members, the Dallas-based company said Friday.
Breeden Partners, with more than $1 billion in assets, has been buying up shares of Zale in recent months. The firm now owns more than 18 percent of the specialty retail jeweler.
“We believe that there are major opportunities for Zale to strengthen its profitability and its market value,” Breeden said. “We are excited to join the board and the Zale management team in pursuing those opportunities with vigor and immediacy.”
From 1989 through 1993, Breeden served as chairman of the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission. He has served on the boards of numerous public and private companies in the U.S. and Europe. He currently serves as the non-executive chairman of H&R Block, Inc., and as a member of the board of BBVA of Spain, one of Europe’s largest banks.
Prior to joining Richard C. Breeden & Co. in 2005, Cotter was a senior partner and vice chairman of the law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. Cotter joined the firm in 1971 and became a partner in 1975.
Zale Corp. also said in its statement that it is engaged in a search for an additional independent director, the appointment of whom would bring the board to its full complement of nine directors.