WASHINGTON -- Dart Group Inc., the Washington-area retailing conglomerate torn by a squabble within the Haft family, announced late yesterday that its four outside board members have taken control of the company.
In addition, the company said Chief Financial Officer Ron Marshall quit to take an executive position at Supermarkets General Inc., a New Jersey-based supermarket chain.
The announcements came a day after Ronald Haft boosted his stake in Dart Group to 79 percent of its Class B shares in a move to wrest control of the company from his father, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Dart Group, based in Landover, owns 65 percent of the stock of automobile parts retailer Trak Auto Corp., 51 percent of the common stock of Crown Books Corp., more than half of the discount beverage chain Total Beverage Corp., all of Cabot Morgan Real Estate Co. and a business that purchases bankers' acceptances.
Ronald Haft, who is president, chief operating officer and a director at Dart, seeks to oust his father, Herbert, who is chairman and chief executive of the company. Members of the Haft family have been feuding over their retailing and real estate empire for more than a year.
"I have difficulty reconciling my father's behavior with the legal standards that I understand to apply to companies that accept the public's money as investors," Ronald Haft said in a letter to Dart's outside directors.
Ronald Haft was referring to an $18 million loan that Herbert Haft tried to obtain from Dart without clearance from Dart's board of directors. The transaction was reversed after Dart's outside law firm said that the transaction would be "improvident."
At a board meeting scheduled for yesterday, Herbert Haft planned to try to replace Ronald Haft as president of Crown Books.
Instead, the company issued a terse news release late in the day saying the board had "created, with the support of both Herbert and Ronald Haft, an executive committee of the board of directors comprised of all other members of the Dart board to conduct the affairs of the company regarding the matters that are the subject of disputes between those two senior officers. Herbert and Ronald Haft said that they supported this resolution as a means of maintaining stability at the corporation while efforts are under way to resolve the disputes."
In a filing Tuesday, Ronald Haft said he had exercised an option to buy 197,048 shares of Dart's Class B stock, the company's voting shares.