Daniel Loeb‘s firm, Third Point, unveiled the website www.Value-Dow.com, that will serve as a central repository for investors who share the hedge fund’s concerns about The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE:DOW)’s persistent under-earning, questionable capital allocation decisions, and lack of accountability to stakeholders.
The website includes a video at http://vimeo.com/thirdpoint/brokenpromises, which suggests that Dow Chemical has fallen behind due to poor strategic decision-making by its board and management team.
Daniel Loeb: Broken promises
Loeb’s firm highlighted on the website several instances of what it called “broken promises” by Dow Chemical and its chief executive, Andrew N. Liveris. Some of the instances highlighted include: “not a petrochemical company,” “margin targets,” and “dividend is safe.” Repudiating Mr. Liveris’ claim that Dow is no longer in the petrochemical manufacturing business, Third Point said that the contention was “nonsensical,” as the company draws a majority of its profits from ethylene cracking, a process used in the petrochemical industry.
Third Point LLC also indicated that it has created an advisory board of executives with substantive, relevant restructuring experience who are providing guidance on how Dow Chemical can enhance value. The hedge fund highlights that R. Steve Miller, the current chairman of American International Group Inc (NYSE:AIG), has a long restructuring career spanning almost three decades. Loeb’s firm also points out that Steve is joined by Raymond J. “Ray” Milchovich, who, as chairman, CEO, and president, led Foster Wheeler AG for over a decade starting in 2001, wherein he spearheaded the restructuring of Foster Wheeler’s oil and natural gas, refining, chemical, and pharmaceutical facility construction.
Possible proxy war
Pan Yuk and Ed Crooks of the Financial Times note that by announcing the names of two seasoned executives working within his campaign, the activist hedge fund manager is hinting heavily that he is ready for a proxy contest for board representation. The window for nominating alternative board directors opens at the end of this month, ahead of The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE:DOW)’s annual shareholder meeting early next year.
After months of efforts to press The Dow Chemical board to enhance the company’s dividend and expand the company’s share buyback program, Dow Chemical made an announcement Wednesday indicating that it is increasing its quarterly dividend from 37 cents a share to 42 cents a share and also increasing its buyback program by $5 billion.
Dow Chemical also unveiled in its second quarter earnings call that it would continue to work toward enhancing the value created through its major joint ventures by simplifying the structure and sharpening the focus of these partnerships.