Activist investor Elliot Management departs Citrix’s board

Turnaround mission accomplished? Looks like it

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Citrix has announced the departure of a director and in so doing signified the business has probably turned a corner.

The director in question, Jesse Cohn, is a partner at activist investor Elliot Management and became a board member after his firm acquired a stake in Citrix in 2015. At the time, Cohn said Elliot regarded Citrix as an underperforming business that needed a re-org to expose its best products. Among his plans was a spinoff of the GoTo business, which was duly sold to LogMeIn for $1.8bn in 2016.

Citrix has also trimmed down, all-but-quit the server virtualisation business, ditched its Xen brand behind and made a strong push into SD-WAN.

Not everything has gone well. Finances have sometimes been floppy, a sudden 2017 CEO swap suggested the turnaround plan wasn’t going well and an early 2020 security incident was one of the nastier and messier bugs of recent times.

Yet the company has also done well with both its own cloud services and those in third-party clouds, while adding a strong networking business and improving its collaboration products. It’s also managed to start selling substantial slabs of its wares as subscriptions, which means it can look a few quarters ahead with confidence the cash will keep coming in.

Those moves have been reflected in the company’s share price, which has done very nicely indeed since the dark days of 2015. At the time of writing it was trading at US$150.56, almost triple the $50.98 on the same day of 2015. Coronavirus has helped things along: the price is up almost $50 since February 28th! The company has also reported good revenue growth and welcome adoption of its subscription offerings.

The announcement of Cohn’s departure certainly suggest his work at Citrix is done.

“We want to thank Jesse for his dedicated service to the board,” said Bob Calderoni, chairman of the board. “His candor, insights and partnership have been valuable and appreciated as the company was executing a significant shift in our strategy, operations and business model. Today, with leadership from the board and executive team, and execution by our 8,500 plus employees, Citrix is stronger and more valuable than ever, and I want to thank Jesse for his many contributions to our success over the past five years.”

Cohn himself said “Citrix has been a terrific long-term investment for Elliott Management.”

“I’m proud to have served as a member of the board during this phase of the company’s growth and transformation. I want to thank David Henshall and his team, my fellow directors on the board, and all of Citrix’s talented employees for making these past five years such a positive and collaborative experience, and I look forward to the company’s continued success.” ®

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