Unilever Investor Lindsell Train Says Changes Mark Fresh Approach

By Donna Ahern
Unilever Investor Lindsell Train Says Changes Mark Fresh Approach

Unilever top-10 investor Lindsell Train welcomed its recent management changes and said it had already discussed the consumer goods company's next steps with the incoming chairman.

The maker of Dove soap and Ben & Jerry's ice cream this year named a new chief executive, chief financial officer and chairperson in short succession.

These moves demonstrated that Unilever thinks that a "fresh perspective on all aspects of the business is necessary," Nick Train, manager of the Finsbury Growth & Income Trust and co-founder of Lindsell Train, told Reuters.

Ninth Biggest Shareholder 

Lindsell Train, which LSEG data shows as Unilever's ninth biggest shareholder, is recognised in the investment community as an influential investor but rarely speaks publicly about the individual companies it has stakes in.


Train's comments come less than two weeks after new Unilever CEO Hein Schumacher laid out long-awaited plans to simplify the business, admitting it had underperformed in recent years.

Schumacher said Unilever would focus on 30 key brands which account for 70% of its sales.

"We are always looking for our FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) companies to assess and re-assess the assets they own in a clear-eyed manner to ensure that they are being run as well as possible," Train said in an emailed statement.

Schumacher replaced Alan Jope, who had a rocky final year as Unilever CEO.

A bungled attempt to buy GSK's consumer healthcare business was followed by billionaire activist investor Nelson Peltz joining the board.


Group Board

Shortly after Schumacher's appointment in July, the group announced that Compass CPG.L Chairman Ian Meakins would head up its board from December, taking over from Nils Anderson.

"We maintain a productive open dialogue with the company and most recently met with the new (Unilever) chairman to hear his view on the most beneficial next steps," Train said.

Read More: Unilever To Freeze New CEO's Fixed Pay For Two Years

News by Reuters, edited by Donna Ahern, Checkout. For more A-brand news, click here. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.

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