Millionaire investor Daniel Loeb, who wants Campbell Soup Co. to sell itself, is launching a proxy fight to remove the entire sitting board at the American food company.
Loeb's hedge fund Third Point LLC is nominating 12 people, according to a letter sent to Campbell's board on Friday. Third Point, which owns a 5.65 percent stake in Campbell Soup, announced its move one week after the company laid out a strategic plan that failed to satisfy the hedge fund.
"This board's persistent failure to discharge its fiduciary duties leaves us no choice but to seek to replace the entire Board with our Shareholder Slate," Loeb wrote in the letter.
Campbell did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Rare Industry Step
Investors had expected Loeb to ask for board seats, but pushing to throw out all sitting directors is a rare step in the industry and especially for Third Point, which usually asks for only a few board seats.
Third Point said it took the step because the board failed to "understand the depth of the Company's crisis" and failed to take "bold action."
The nominees include people with ties to Campbell, including an heir of John Dorrance who invented condensed soup and ran the company nearly 100 years ago. It also includes two executives from the hedge fund.
The slate "has extensive experience in operations, marketing, strategy, transactions, leadership, capital allocation, and general corporate governance - all of which the current Board lacks," Loeb wrote.
The fund is nominating William Toler, former chief executive of Hostess Brands, George Strawbridge, one of Dorrance's surviving grandchildren who previously sat on the Campbell's board, and Munib Islam, a partner at Third Point.
The slate also includes three women: lawyer Franci Blassberg, marketing executive Sarah Hofstetter and Bozoma Saint John, who had been chief brand officer at Uber.
Loeb however could face an uphill struggle for control of Campbell Soup, given that Dorrance descendants own a combined stake of about 42 percent in the company. Three heirs currently sit on the board.
However, a board challenge could ratchet up pressure on Campbell Soup to explore a sale more actively.
News by Reuters, edited by Donna Ahern. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.