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March 11, 2019 9:15 PM, EDT

XPO Logistics Terminates COO Ken Wagers

XPO Logistics has terminated COO Ken Wagers Wagers via XPO Logistics; Ann Arbor headquarters by Transport Topics

XPO Logistics Inc. has terminated Chief Operating Officer Ken Wagers, a high-profile executive hired away from Amazon.com less than a year ago, according to an XPO filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 11.

Wagers becomes the third person in the executive suite to recently leave Greenwich, Conn.-based XPO.

The move comes in the aftermath of a fourth-quarter earnings report in which XPO disclosed the loss of $600 million in business from its largest customer, who analysts have identified as Amazon.

XPO also cut its earnings forecast, based in part on a business slowdown in France and the United Kingdom.

In response to the disappointing earnings report, XPO CEO Brad Jacobs said the company would halt plans to pursue additional mergers and acquisitions so management could focus on replacing the lost business and on boosting results from its freight transportation and logistics businesses in North America and Europe.

XPO Logistics CEO Brad Jacobs

Jacobs

In a statement to Transport Topics, a company spokesperson said, “We originally hired Kenny Wagers to work alongside our president, Troy Cooper, in anticipation of significant M&A activity. Now that we’ve decided to do a large stock buyback instead, we’re returning to an executive lineup that makes the most commercial sense.”

“We thank Kenny for his time at XPO,” the spokesperson added, “and wish him the best.”

In its SEC filing, XPO said the termination of Wagers was “without cause” and that Wagers would receive $262,500 in severance pay, along with a sign-on bonus of $285,000 as specified in his employment agreement.

XPO is planning to take on $1 billion in new debt to fund the stock buyback and support the company’s ongoing business operations.

XPO said last month the new senior notes will bear interest at a rate of 6.75%, payable semiannually, in cash on Feb. 15 and Aug. 15 of each year, commencing Aug. 15, 2019 and maturing Aug. 15, 2024.

Wagers will receive 9,292 shares of restricted stock prorated for time he worked at XPO.

At Amazon, he served in a number of top jobs and was considered critical to the expansion of the company’s transportation and logistics services. Prior to joining Amazon in 2013, Wagers worked for Dr. Pepper Snapple Group and also spent more than a decade at parcel carrier UPS Inc. where he was involved in development of the company’s logistics services.

SEC Filing From XPO Logistics by on Scribd

Wagers is the third major departure in the past six months. The company has been seeking a new chief finance officer since the departure of John Hardig in August. After initially pursuing candidates with experience in mergers and acquisitions, Jacobs said that the company is now seeking an executive with more business operations expertise. The job is currently being filled on an interim basis by Sarah Glickman, senior vice president of corporate finance.

In October, XPO hired Matthew Fassler as chief strategy officer to replace Scott Malat, who announced that he would leave the company in December to spend more time with his family.

Jacobs launched XPO Logistics in 2011 with the goal of growing the business rapidly through acquisitions and to become a logistics industry consolidator. Major transactions included the purchase of home delivery specialist 3PD Inc., warehouse operator New Breed Logistics, intermodal freight service provider Pacer International, European contract logistics and freight carrier Norbert Dentressangle and U.S.-based trucking and logistics firm Con-way Inc.

XPO Logistics topped the Transport Topics Top 50 list of largest logistics companies in 2017 and maintained that position in 2018. The company also ranks No. 3 on the TT Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.