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Thursday 9 April 2020


Harley Accepts Investor Board Appointee Plan

Harley-Davidson has resolved the dispute it found itself in with activist investor Bob Bishop's Impala Asset Management (owner of more than 1% of H-D stock) and accepted a compromise, allowing Impala to propose one appointee of its choice to the board of Harley-Davidson.

Impala is said to have the backing of several other H-D private equity and institutional stockholders who share Bob Bishop's/Impala's disquiet at the recent management of the company and the direction it has been taking. Bishop had initially been lobbying for it to be able to appoint two new directors to the H-D Board.
Meanwhile, H-D has changed its company bye-laws to allow the annual meeting and its board of director meetings to happen remotely/virtually by video conference - which may well please German acting CEO Jochen Zeitz who, apparently, is scrabbling for a Green Card after stepping in to fill the breach left by the departure of Matt Levatich.
His position at the helm of Harley-Davidson, be it temporary or otherwise, is clearly not a career move he had envisaged and what appears to have been a side hustle unexpectedly moved center stage in his life. Zeitz, a H-D board member since 2007, has agreed to stay on as Chairman of Harley-Davidson once an executive search has found them a new, permanent CEO.
Meanwhile, radio silence from Milwaukee about any planning being done for Harley to restart production and, at this stage, when they anticipate that might be - unless you count announcements about a line of Performance Bagger custom parts and Stage 4 SE 128/131 kits for 2017 and up touring models as valid and valuable contributions to the times in which we live!

Stop Press

Apparently Harley-Davidson staff were told that they would be informed "on or around April 19" about the next stage in lifting the production shut-down, or not.

Prior to shut-down, around 50 percent of the required MY2021 Touring launch production vehicle builds had been completed, but it is unknown about whether the launch of Softails, Sportsters, Streets or LiveWires are done yet, nor if any production Bronx or Pan America models have been built. It is reported that the Bronx and Pan America launches had already slipped to November 2020 at the earliest anyway, for non-coronavirus reasons.

The increasingly widespread assumption is that Harley (and Indian probably) will have to push back their usual late August new model year release announcement. The planned August 23-26 Dealer Convention slated for the Music City Center, Nashville, Tennessee, must also be in doubt - indeed while the online venue calendar is still showing planned events there from June onward, it is not listing Harley's convention - though that may just be because it is not a public admittance event.