Since 1996, Ralph Whitworth has been a Principal of Relational Investors LLC, a registered investment advisor. He is the former Chairman of the Board of Apria Healthcare Group Inc., and Waste Management, Inc. He is also a former director of Mattel, Inc., Tektronix, Inc., and Sirius Satellite Radio, Inc. He is currently a director of Sovereign Bancorp, Inc. and Titan Investment Partners, LLC, a privately held investment fund which focuses on emerging companies. Mr. Whitworth has served as one of our directors since February 2008.
Ralph Whitworth, an activist investor who forced leadership changes at International Business Machines Inc., Home Depot Inc. and other U.S. corporations with a hands-on approach he honed working with T. Boone Pickens, has died. He was 60.
He died Sept. 29 at UC San Diego Medical Center, David Batchelder, who co-founded Relational Investors LLC with Whitworth, said in a telephone interview. Whitworth resigned as chairman of Hewlett-Packard Co. in July 2014 and took a leave of absence from his money-management firm to focus on his health. He later said he had HPV-related squamous cell carcinoma. The San Diego-based firm closed at the end of 2015.
His critiques helped bring about the replacement of chief executive officers John Akers at IBM, Robert Nardelli at Home Depot, Gary Forsee at Sprint Nextel Corp. and Jay Sidhu at Sovereign Bancorp Inc. As chairman of Waste Management Inc. from 1999 to 2004, Whitworth oversaw a turnaround at the Houston-based company after an accounting scandal.
In 1996, Whitworth teamed with another Pickens protege, Batchelder, head of Batchelder & Partners Inc., to form Relational Investors, an activist fund targeting companies with lagging stock prices. Calpers invested $200 million.
Relational Investors managed about $6 billion when Whitworth stepped down in 2014. He applied his wealth to passions including cars and music.
He paid $1 million to a favored charity of Paul McCartney to get the ex-Beatle to perform at the 50th birthday party of his first wife, Wendy Walker, held at a restaurant near their home in Rancho Santa Fe, California, in 2003.
That marriage ended in divorce. In 2006, Whitworth married Fernanda Lopes and paid the Four Tops to perform at their reception, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. In May 2015, he arranged for a private show by the Rolling Stones at a club in Solana Beach, California.
He graduated in 1982 with a degree in political science from University of Nevada at Reno, where he later established a scholarship in the College of Business’s Scholar Leader program. During the summer before his senior year, he met Paul Laxalt, a Republican who represented Nevada in the U.S. Senate from 1975 to 1987 and chaired Ronald Reagan’s campaigns for president.
He received a law degree in 1985 from Georgetown University in Washington.
Whitworth, who lived in Rancho Santa Fe, a San Diego suburb, is survived by his wife, Fernanda, and their children Douglass and Ava, and two children from his first marriage, Amaya and Ralph Walker Whitworth, who is known as Walker.more » « less