Nelson Peltz’s Trian Fund Management LP said Monday it’s seeking a seat for its billionaire chief executive at Procter & Gamble Co’s (PG) board as it looks to push the company to take more drastic steps to revive sales.
Trian’s move is the latest in a lengthening series of assaults on the world’s biggest consumer goods companies by those who think they’re too conservatively run. Earlier this year, Kraft Heinz, under the guidance of the aggressive private-equity group 3G, pitched to Anglo-Dutch giant Unilever, while last month Daniel Loeb’s Third Point fund pushed for changes at Swiss-based Nestlé. Both of the European companies have since been forced to increase shareholder payouts and accelerate planned efficiency measures.
Peltz’s fund, which owns about $3.3 billion of P&G’s stock, urged shareholders to vote for Peltz at the company’s shareholder meeting, citing his track record of working with managements to turn around consumer companies.
In a bid to boost profits even as sales remain stagnant, P&G has sold unprofitable brands, including 41 beauty brands to Coty Inc (COTY), and focused on core brands such as Tide, Pampers and Gillette.
However, those efforts have failed to boost the company’s stock much beyond the level where it traded at the beginning of this year. The company had a market value of $222.77 billion, as of Friday’s close. The shares are down 5% from their peak in late 2014.
Trian said in the filing it was launching the proxy fight because of P&G’s continuing underperformance and the lack of tangible evidence that the company had embraced initiatives discussed at various meetings between the parties.
“We believe that many of (P&G’s) challenges relate to the company’s organizational structure and culture, which can be highly resistant to change,” the fund said.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news last night, Peltz said that “We need a game-changing attitude at P&G….We just can’t keep going along the same path.”
Trian had sought a seat for Peltz on P&G’s board earlier this year, but was declined by the company.
P&G said in an email on Monday that its board was confident that the changes being made by the company were producing results and expressed complete support for its strategy, plans, and management.
Trian said it was not seeking a break-up of P&G or the ouster of the company’s chief executive, adding that in case Peltz was elected he would seek re-election of the director he replaced. The fight will play out over the run up to the company’s annual meeting, which is usually held in October.