The billionaire chief executive of Dole Food Co and his top lieutenant must pay $148.2 million of damages to shareholders they shortchanged when the produce company went private in 2013, a Delaware judge ruled on Thursday….Shareholders accused Murdock and Carter of driving down Dole’s share price by downplaying the Westlake Village, California-based company’s ability to boost profit by cutting costs and buying farms, and canceling a stock buyback.
In his 106-page decision, [Vice Chancellor Travis] Laster saw Carter as the main engineer of the scheme, calling him Murdock’s “right-hand man” and saying Carter “actually engaged” in fraud.
“Although facially large, the award is conservative to what the evidence could support,” Laster wrote.
In a decision that may cast a pall on management-led buyouts, Vice Chancellor Travis Laster said Dole Chief Executive David Murdock, 92, and former Chief Operating Officer C. Michael Carter were liable for depressing the stock so that Murdock, who owned 40 percent of Dole, could buy the rest at a lowball price.
via Dole CEO liable for $148 million over unfair buyout: Delaware judge | Reuters.