A timeline leading to the death of Bed Bath & Beyond’s CFO

Good morning,

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., ranking no. 381 on the Fortune 500, it is in the midst of meme stock mayhem, dire financial straits, executive turmoil, controversy and tragedy.

Over the Labor Day weekend, the retailer announced that its chief financial officer Gustavo Arnal, 52, had died, saying the organization was “deeply saddened by this shocking loss.” Local reports confirmed that Arnal fell to his death on September 2 from a Manhattan skyscraper. His death was ruled a suicide on Monday by the New York City Medical Examiner. Arnal joined the company in May 2020 after a career in finance at Avon, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Procter & Gamble.

“Laura Crossen, Bed Bath & Beyond’s chief accounting officer, will assume the role of interim chief financial officer,” a company representative told me in an email Tuesday. “Laura has been with the organization for more than 20 years and we are grateful for her leadership. He has the full support of our organization, board and external advisors.”

The company filed an 8-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission, naming Crossen as interim chief financial officer. According to the report, her base salary will increase by $200,000, with her target annual bonus opportunity increasing to 70%.

I asked Bed Bath & Beyond what Crossen’s priorities would be in assuming the role of CFO. “Our leadership team, including Laura, is focused on supporting our teams, ensuring our stores, customers and partners are supported and advancing the strategies shared last week,” according to the spokesperson.

Bed Bath & Beyond announced Aug. 31 that it had secured more than $500 million in new financing, planned to cut its workforce by 20 percent and close 150 “low-performing” stores. The company also said it had eliminated the roles of CEO and Store Manager. Bed Bath & Beyond reported a net loss of $385 million in earnings ended May 28, compared with a loss of $51 million in the same period last year. Sue Gove, an independent director at the company, became interim CEO, replacing Mark Tritton as CEO.

In addition to the financial challenges, a class-action lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia on August 23, naming the lead plaintiff as Pengcheng Si. It claims that from March 2022 to August 2022, Arnal; Ryan Cohen, activist investor. JP Morgan Securities LLC; and others, “engaged in a fraudulent scheme to artificially inflate the price of BBBY’s publicly traded stock,” according to court filings I reviewed.

“As previously noted in the 8-K filed on Aug. 31, the company is in the early stages of evaluating the complaint, but based on current knowledge, the company believes the claims are without merit,” a spokesperson for Bed Bath & Beyond.

Here’s what we know about the chaotic summer leading up to last weekend’s tragedy:

Aug. 16—Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond jump as much as 78.8% after the legendary investor’s latest bet: BBBY rose more than 70% on Aug. 16 as small investors on social media gravitate to the stock after a filing that revealed activist investor Ryan Cohen was hedging his bet.

Aug. 16—How a 20-year-old USC student made $110 million from a Bed Bath & Beyond stock dump at just the right time: At 2 p.m. ET on August 16, BBBY’s stock price fell from more than $26 per share to below $20 in a matter of minutes. But the 20-year-old USC student posted on Reddit that he had exited his $130 million position before noon.

Aug. 18—Ryan Cohen leads 27% drop in Bed Bath & Beyond shares by selling his entire stake: Five months after disclosing a stake in Bed Bath & Beyond, activist shareholder Cohen has pulled out, sending the home retailer’s stock plunging goods.

Aug. 19—Bed Bath & Beyond shares fall another 43% after Cohen leaves the company: BBBY shares fell 43% in the open on Aug. 19 as investors fled the news. that GameStop president Ryan Cohen had indeed sold all of his holdings in the meme stock.

Aug. 19—Some Bed Bath & Beyond suppliers stop sending unpaid bills: Several of the companies that provide credit insurance or short-term financing to suppliers have canceled the company’s coverage.

Aug. 19—No respite for meme-stock investors as Bed Bath & Beyond worries whether it can pay its bills: Just one day after its stock lost a fifth of its value following a huge price hike, meme stock was popular on Reddit board WallStreetBets was set to drop.

Aug. 22—Bed Bath & Beyond leads to disaster in meme stocks as frenzy peters out: BBBY plunges 16%, snapping a three-day slide that wiped 60% of its market value, after reports some suppliers were cutting back or stopping shipments completely after the company fell behind on payments.

August 23—A class-action lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia: Lead plaintiff Pengcheng Si alleges Ryan Cohen approached Gustavo Arnal about a scheme to control the company’s stock so they could both benefit .

Aug. 24—Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond soar again after tapping a new source of financing: A report revealed that the troubled home goods retailer has secured debt financing. The debt financing process is conducted by JPMorgan Chase.

Aug. 31—Bed Bath & Beyond shares sink on plans to close 150 stores: Traders on Reddit’s r/WallStreetBets forum were hit particularly hard, with one claiming a net loss of $1.1 million on their investment .

September 5—Bed Bath & Beyond’s CFO’s fall from a Manhattan skyscraper is ruled a suicide. retailer is ‘deeply saddened’

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-8255.

See you tomorrow.

Cheryl Estrada
sheryl.estrada@fortune.com

Upcoming events: This month, the Luck The CFO community will meet in person Chicago and Dallas for two in-depth dinner conversations to delve into the new leadership strategies CFOs need to adopt. CFOs, click here to apply to attend Chicago in Sepia on September 22nd or click here to apply to attend September 29th at The Mansion Turtle Creek in Dallas. Note that participation is free and subject to approval. See you there!

This story was originally featured on Fortune.com

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