Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Honduras swears in its first female president, Amy Schneider’s Jeopardy! run comes to an end, and activist investors are circling Kohl’s. Have a restful weekend.
– Sale of the season. Four years ago, CEO Michelle Gass started executing her strategy for the retailer Kohl’s. For the past two weeks, activist investors have made clear that they’re unhappy with that plan’s results as they circle Kohl’s with takeover offers.
First there was Engine Capital’s proposal to sell the company or spin off its e-commerce business. Then Macellum Advisors urged a board shakeup or a sale. Next, Starboard Value offered $9 billion to buy the department store chain. And finally, Sycamore upped the offer by $1 per share—$65 to Starboard’s $64.
This isn’t the first time Gass has faced off with activists. But this time around, the sale talk is especially popular with investors, who sent the stock up 30%, back to where it was when Gass first took over the business. (For another reminder of what that time was like, read this 2018 Fortune profile of Gass, written as she took the reins.)
But the takeover offers aren’t good news for the CEO, as this Bloomberg story outlines.
Gass is known as an innovator—a longtime Starbucks exec, she’s credited with inventing the Frappuccino and its caramel drizzle. The task of turning around a flagging budget department store chain, however, was a tough one. Gass has implemented plenty of changes, from a deal with Amazon allowing online orders to be returned in store to the coup of securing a coveted Sephora retail partnership.
Kohl’s is a $16-billion-in-revenue business, ranked No. 195 in the Fortune 500. That makes Gass, the first woman to run Kohl’s, one of the 41 women who led Fortune 500 businesses at the time of 2021’s list. Women who run retail businesses tend to make up a significant share of female Fortune 500 leaders, but their ranks have thinned in recent years with the departure of Mary Dillon from Ulta Beauty and the collapse of J.C. Penney, which was led by Jill Soltau before it filed for bankruptcy. Kohl’s isn’t in as dire straits as mall-based J.C. Penney—but whether it will stick around as an independent, woman-led retailer is now in question.
The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
- Madame President. Honduras swore in Xiomara Castro as its first female president yesterday. Vice President Kamala Harris flew to Honduras for the ceremony, a visit that was also part of her mandate to oversee the Biden administration's work on migration from central America and the U.S.-Mexico border. Reuters
- The story of a lawsuit. Ann Lai quit her job at Binary Capital over what she called a hostile work environment where disparaging comments about women were frequent. (Binary' cofounder, Justin Caldbeck, denies the allegations.) The firm pointed to a non-disparagement agreement she signed at her hiring to prevent her from talking about sexism in the industry even in broad terms, withhold some of her compensation, and interfere with her efforts to secure a new job. This feature tells the story of Lai's lawsuit to fight that non-disparagement agreement and journey to reclaim her career in Silicon Valley. Elle
- Taking shape. Kim Kardashian's underwear, apparel, and shapewear brand Skims raised a $240 million Series B round, doubling its valuation to $3.2 billion. The round was led by Lone Pine Capital, and Kardashian is still the brand's largest individual shareholder. Fortune
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Alison Loehnis, president of luxury and fashion at Yoox Net-a-Porter, joins Lululemon's board. Domo named Nikki Walker director of diversity, equity and inclusion.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- Game, set, match. At the Australian Open, Ashleigh Barty is set to play Danielle Collins in the women's final. Barty is the first Australian since 1980 to reach the women’s singles final at the tournament, while Collins, an American, made it to the final after coming in seated 27th. New York Times
- Heck of a run. Amy Schneider's Jeopardy! reign finally came to an end this week after 40 wins and $1.3 million. She's the highest-winning woman in the show's history and the second-winningest contestant ever, after Ken Jennings. She took a demotion at work in software engineering as she spent weeks filming her episodes—and her Jeopardy! check hasn't arrived yet. New York Times
- Tragedy leads to protest. A year after Poland introduced one of Europe's strictest abortion laws, people across the country are protesting. The protests started after a 37-year-old woman who was pregnant with twins died from pregnancy complications after one fetus's heartbeat stopped and her doctor refused to perform an abortion. Her family has said that the government has "blood on its hands." Guardian
ON MY RADAR
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'It was all about how the 2020 election was stolen:' Billionaire Peter Thiel hosts fundraiser for Liz Cheney challenger Vanity Fair
"It’s just surreal. ... I'm over the moon."
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