Tag Archives: matt levatich

Sacked Harley boss paid $11m, say investors

A boardroom battle is brewing at Harley-Davidson as investors trying to wrestle control have suggested CEO and president Matt Levatich was sacked last month and was paid a record $11m last year.

Hedge fund Impala Asset Management who have a 1.2% share in Harley, have launched their first proxy battle to have two nominees on the board.

Harley replied that it is happy with its nine nominees.

But Impala isn’t backing down and released a controversial statement to investors that claims Levatich was sacked or “terminated” and paid a record sum. It also complains about the salary for temporary replacement Jochen Zeitz.

We have had significant concerns about the strategic direction and actions taken by the Board under former Chairman Michael Cave’s stewardship for some time – and we have voiced these concerns privately to Harley,” Impala says. 

Notably, it took our urging to convince the Board to terminate the prior CEO, Matthew Levatich, despite years of poor performance. 

In 2019, Mr. Levatich’s reported compensation increased to a new annual record of more than $11 million, even as adjusted motorcycle operating income declined by more than 20% and the stock underperformed Harley’s peers.

The Board has still not shown that it is focused on positive change. To the contrary, one of the first decisions the incumbent directors made after firing Mr. Levatich was to reward their longstanding colleague, Jochen Zeitz, the new Acting President and CEO, with a pay package that could provide up to $8.5 million in salary, bonuses and restricted units for a short assignment.

This is yet another instance of this Board being tone deaf to the plight of shareholders and further demonstrates the need for new perspectives on the Board.”

Sacked or mutual agreement?

Matt Levatich Harley-Davidson CEOP and president boss HogLevatich in Australia last year

Harley has not replied to Impala’s claims, but their original announcement said Levatich was stepping down after a mutual agreement with the board.

They have also not answered our questions from a couple of weeks ago that included whether the boss was sacked and his severance payment arrangements.

Looks like tough times ahead for Harley who this week announced temporary factory closures in the US after a worker at their Pilgrim Rd engine factory in Milwaukee tested positive for coronavirus.

It is too early to say what effect the new boss, new board, coronavirus and the likely recession will have on this major motorcycle manufacturer, but we will keep you updated.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Harley-Davidson boss Matt Levatich quits

Harley-Davidson boss Matt Levatich has just announced his is stepping down as the company experiences its biggest sales slide since the Global Financial Crisis.

In response to Levatich stepping down as CEO, president and board member, Harley shares jumped 4.9% on American markets.

Levatich legacy

Levatich took over in May 2015 and was pivotal in developing bold new strategies for the traditional brand, including:

We’re not sure if this announcement means the company no longer endorses these strategies.

“I am very fortunate to have spent many years with a company as revered as Harley-Davidson,” Levatich says.

“The grit and determination of the employees and dealers and their passion for bringing our brand of freedom to people around the world has always been inspiring.

“I am proud of what we have achieved during my time as CEO, in one of the most challenging periods in our history, and I am confident that the progress we have made on the More Roads plan will position Harley-Davidson for long-term success.”

Matt Levatich Harley-Davidson CEO politics silicon confirmsMatt at the 115th Harley party in 2018

HOG shares have fallen 46% since Levatich took charge and Harley bike sales in the US last year were the lowest in at least 16 years.

While in Australia last year, Levatich put some of the blame on motorcycle journalists.

Matt Levatich Harley-Davidson CEOP and president boss HogLevatich in Australia last year

New boss

The Board of Directors has appointed current Board member, German-born Jochen Zeitz, as Acting President, CEO and board chair.

A committee of the Board will be formed and an external search firm engaged to find a new CEO.

Levatich is expected to assist with the transition through the end of March.

Zeitz will remain chair when a new CEO is appointed and current chair Michael Cave is now presiding director.

“The Board and Matt mutually agreed that now is the time for new leadership at Harley-Davidson,” Zeitz says.

Jochen Zeitz with LiveWireJochen Zeitz with LiveWire

“Matt was instrumental in defining the More Roads to Harley-Davidson accelerated plan for growth, and we will look to new leadership to recharge our business. On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Matt for his 26 years of service to Harley-Davidson. He has worked tirelessly to navigate the Company through a period of significant industry change while ensuring the preservation of one of the most iconic brands in the world.

“The Harley-Davidson Board and leadership team will continue to work closely together as we search for a new CEO. We have confidence that our combined leadership experience and deep understanding of Harley-Davidson will ensure an effective transition. As a passionate Board Member of Harley-Davidson, I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and other Harley-Davidson stakeholders to advance and deliver the Company’s strategy and execution during this important time,” Zeitz says.

Zeitz has been a member of the Harley-Davidson Board of Directors since 2007 and established the Company’s Brand and Sustainability Committee.

He served as Chairman and CEO of the sporting goods company PUMA from 1993 to 2011. He was also PUMA’s CFO from 1993 to 2005. Zeitz served as a director of luxury goods company Kering (formerly PPR) from 2012 to 2016. He was a member of Kering’s Executive Committee and CEO of its Sport & Lifestyle division from 2010 to 2012. Zeitz is also a Board Member of the Cranemere Group Limited and is on the Board of The B Team which he co-founded with Sir Richard Branson.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Harley plans sub-500cc motorcycle

Harley-Davidson plans to produce a sub-500cc motorcycle for the Asian market in collaboration with a local manufacturer within the next year.

It wouldn’t be the smallest motorcycle they’ve ever made. That would be the 1970s 90cc monkey bike pictured above.

The sub-500cc bike plan is included in the company’s ‘More Roads’ initiative, a strategic long-term plan, says Harley head honcho Matt Levatich.

“More Roads progress in Q1 included steps towards a partnership for a premium small displacement offering in Asia, to expand our reach in that region,” he says.

“We are just over a year away from launching our first model that will help provide access to millions of customers in emerging markets in the region.”

Sub-500cc collaboration

The small-capacity bike will be built in collaboration with a “local” motorcycle manufacturer.

It could be a similar venture to BMW’s alliance with the Indian TVS company to build the G 310 models or the Bajaj Auto deal to build a third of KTM’s bikes at their Chakan plant.

BMW G 310 R top seller build small sub
BMW G 310 R

It seems strange that Harley would need a local partner as they already make the Street family of 500cc and 750cc motorcycles in India as well as Kansas.

The Indian-made Street models are sold in markets outside of Asia, including Australia and New Zealand.

However, there is no talk yet of the new sub-500cc bike being available in other markets.

The new sub-500cc motorcycles could also be built in Thailand where Harley started making motorcycles for the Asian market late last year.

Harley-Davidson Australia spokesman Keith Waddell says the company has confirmed to them that “motorcycles for Australia will not be assembled in Thailand”.

More Roads strategy

Matt pointed out that their More Roads strategy was part of their business plan to deal with the “very real pressures we’re facing across the global motorcycle industry, including the impact of the ongoing trade wars”.

“Today we participate in segments that represent approximately 40% of the global 601+cc volume,” Matt says.

“When we deliver our new mid-weight motorcycles under More Roads, we will compete in segments representing nearly 90% of that global volume. Add to that, the opportunities we have in global lower displacement and electric segments.”

Last July, Harley announced a number of new models over the next couple of years.

They include the launch in September of their first electric motorcycle, the LiveWire, plus their first adventure bike, the Pan America, a new midweight streetfighter class and electric bicycles.

Harley electric bicycles sharing sub
Harley electric bicycle

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com