Newly-Formed DowDuPont Is Already Fighting Off Activist Investors

September 12, 2017, 4:12 PM UTC

DowDuPont, formed through the merger of chemical giants Dow Chemical and DuPont, is shifting some operations in the three units it plans to create, in a bid to avert a prolonged fight with activist investors over its post-merger plan.

Dow and DuPont will split into three companies focusing on agriculture, specialty chemicals and materials but some investors such as Nelson Peltz’s Trian Partners and Daniel Loeb’s Third Point LLC have urged the companies to take another look at how business units would be allocated.

The company said on Tuesday its revised plan will move businesses with a total of more than $8 billion in annual sales from its materials science division to the specialty-chemical unit, including water purification and automotive systems.

“We expect that this updated portfolio was seen by legacy Dow as the bare minimum to avoid an activist fight,” Bernstein analyst Jonas Oxgaard wrote in a client note.

Trian said it fully supports the portfolio adjustments announced by DowDuPont.

“Since we first became involved in the merger discussions in November 2015, we planned to help the company execute this critical review at the appropriate time. We believe this is a great outcome for shareholders.”

DowDuPont‘s shares rose 2.5 percent in premarket trading.

In May, investor Daniel Loeb’s Third Point LLC had suggested moving several businesses from the material science unit to specialty products.

Third Point did not immediately respond to an email seeking comments.

DowDuPont said it would also split the old Dow Corning and distribute its lucrative silicone business among the materials and specialty companies.

Earlier, this business was expected to stay under the materials science division – which will account for more legacy Dow businesses and retain the Dow brand. The business produces silicon-based products for aerospace, automotive and electrical industries.

Minority shareholder Glenview Capital Management said DowDuPont‘s move was “an important first step” but leaves the company significantly undervalued and recommended share buybacks.

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