LoanDepot’s Anthony Hsieh out as exec chair over proxy battle

Founder and former CEO clashed with board over nomination

A photo illustration of loanDepot founder Anthony Hsieh (Getty)
A photo illustration of loanDepot founder Anthony Hsieh (Getty)

LoanDepot has parted ways with its founder after the former executive’s clash with the board of the direct-to-consumer lender escalated into a proxy fight. 

Anthony Hsieh “stepped down” from his role as executive chairman Wednesday, the company announced, saying the decision came “pursuant to a mutual agreement unanimously approved” by loanDepot’s board of directors.

However, Hsieh, who will continue to chair the board of directors, said he was ousted over a public spat with the company board.

The former executive’s tensions with company leaders boiled over when he submitted Steven Ozonian to be on the board of directors. The company said this week it is evaluating Ozonian’s candidacy, but the process hit a snag when Hsieh disclosed his plan to effectively replace director Pamela Patenaude; Hsieh said he controlled 57 percent of the voting power.

Board member Dawn Lepore called it “surprising and disappointing” that Hsieh tried undercutting the process for adding to the board of directors. 

Hsieh refuted the company’s characterization of events in a letter to shareholders, all but saying he was being forced out, Inman reported. He said his nomnation of Ozonian was part of his “obligation” to act as the company’s largest single stockholder.

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Hsieh later distributed his own press release to “correct the record” on the company’s claims. In the release, Hsieh said he was terminated before he formally nominated Ozonian and hasn’t been given indications that Ozonian is being seriously considered for a board spot.

Ozonian has been the CEO of Williston Financial Group for the past five years and serves on the board of directors for LendingTree, Attom Data and Inside Real Estate. Patenaude has been on the board of directors since 2021 and has held roles including a board of directors spot with the National Housing Conference and as deputy secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development during Donald Trump’s administration.

The company, like most other lenders, struggled when the Federal Reserve started hiking interest rates last year, causing mortgage rates to nearly double in a matter of months. LoanDepot sought to enact $400 million in cost-trimming measures and shed more than 5,000 jobs through layoffs and attrition.

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