Proxy fight at USA Technologies

A white vs. blue contest is under way at unprofitable USA Technologies Inc., which provides technology for using credit cards in 60,000 vending machines, laundry machines, and photocopiers.

The contest is a proxy fight over two slates for the Malvern company’s board of directors. Management’s nominees are listed on a white card sent to shareholders. A dissident slate is printed on blue cards.

USA Technologies, with about $12 million in revenue in fiscal 2009, has been chipping away at its quarterly losses for years. It posted a loss of 17 cents a share for the quarter that ended Sept. 30, compared with a loss of 28 cents a share a year earlier. Management insists the company will turn a profit late next year.

No good, say the dissident investors, Craig W. Thomas and London-based portfolio manager Bradley M. Tirpak. They mailed the blue card to shareholders and, in a letter Monday citing management’s “handsome” compensation amid a years-long slide in USA Technologies’ stock price, positioned themselves as agents of corporate change.

“We urge shareholders to send a message to management and directors that the time for change is NOW,” Tirpak wrote.

On Tuesday, USA Technologies chief executive officer George R. Jenson Jr. shot back in his own letter to shareholders in which he suggests that the dissidents, motivated by “blatant opportunism,” want control as the company approaches profitability.

Tirpak’s letter said that wasn’t so, but he does want “to unlock the great value at USA Technologies.”
The annual shareholder meeting is set for Dec. 15.

Honor for O’Brien

Peco Energy Co. chief executive Denis O’Brien will be honored today as Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business 2009 business leader of the year.

O’Brien earned a Drexel M.B.A. in 1987 and is a university trustee. He’s also a vice president of Exelon Corp., Peco’s parent company.

Mike Armstrong is away. Contact Reid Kanaley at 215-854-5114 or