Report: Before Suicide, CFO Was Working 18-Hour Days

Other Bed Bath & Beyond execs were worried about Gustavo Arnal, insiders say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2022 7:32 AM CDT
Bed Bath & Beyond Execs Worried About Stress on CFO
A Bed Bath & Beyond sign is shown in Mountain View, Calif.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

The death of Bed Bath & Beyond chief financial office Gustavo Arnal has been ruled a suicide, and insiders say board members were worried that he was becoming overwhelmed—but they didn't want to replace him while the struggling chain was working on restructuring plans. Sources tell the Wall Street Journal that Arnal, who had been logging 18-hour days, had been talking to company officials about taking a break and they planned to resume discussions after Labor Day weekend. On Friday, however, the 52-year-old died in a fall from the 57-story New York City skyscraper he lived in with his wife.

The Journal's sources say Arnal was under a lot of pressure from the major financial issues affecting Bed Bath and Beyond—and from a shareholder lawsuit that accused him of conspiring with investor Ryan Cohen to inflate the company's share price. Arnal sold $1.4 million in company stock on Aug. 16, when it briefly surged over $20, up from under $10 a week earlier. The sale, however, was made under a prearranged plan set up in April, according to a court filing, and insiders say the company hasn't found any sign of wrongdoing, or any direct communication between Cohen and Arnal. The company, which is also being sued, has described the lawsuit as meritless.

Arnal, who grew up in Venezuela, spent 20 years with Procter & Gamble and worked as CFO for cosmetics brand Avon in London before he joined Bed Bath and Beyond in 2020, reports Reuters. Two days before he took his own life, Arnal spoke on a conference call about restructuring plans that involved closing around 150 stores and cutting around 20% of the company's corporate and supply chain workforce. He said he had secured around $500 million in new funding. Wedbush Securities analyst Seth Basham tells the Journal he spoke to Arnal after the call and "there was nothing out of the ordinary." (Read more Bed Bath & Beyond stories.)

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