Notch up another win for activist Nelson Peltz and his firm Trian Partners. Commercial food supply giant Sysco Corporation announced on Thursday afternoon that it has agreed to appoint Nelson Peltz, CEO and a founding partner of Trian Fund Management, and Josh Frank, a Trian partner, to the Board of Directors of the company as of August 21, 2015. With the addition of two new members, the Sysco BoD expands to a total of 12 members, 10 of whom are independent members.
Of note, both Peltz and Frank will be included in the slate of nominees for election to the board at the 2015 Annual Meeting of Shareholders.
Statements from Sysco CEO, Nelson Peltz and Josh Frank
Bill DeLaney, Sysco president and CEO, commented on the appointment of two new board members: “As evidenced by our recent full-year and fourth quarter results, Sysco is well positioned to continue building on its momentum to enhance long-term shareholder value. We respect Trian’s experience and value the perspective they will bring as we continue to focus on supporting the success of our customers, profitably growing our business and improving our return on invested capital. As we previously announced, we plan to repurchase an incremental $3 billion in Sysco shares over the next two years and we will continue to further evaluate opportunities to optimize our capital structure, while improving productivity across our business. We look forward to providing additional details regarding our strategic initiatives during our Investor Day on Sept. 15, 2015.”
New board member Nelson Peltz noted: “Sysco is a leader in its business, and we believe it is undervalued and has tremendous long-term potential. As Sysco’s largest shareholder with an approximate 7.1 percent ownership position, we welcome the opportunity to work constructively with the Board and management.”
Fellow new director Josh Frank added: “We are excited to begin working with Sysco’s leadership to design and execute initiatives to drive shareholder value creation over time.”
Sysco’s statement noted that Peltz is slated to join the Corporate Governance and Nominating Committee, while Frank will be joining the Compensation and Finance Committees of the board.
After Trian revealed the stake, but before the BOD seats were announced, Jefferies analysts noted:
Trian Group has revealed a 7% stake in SYY (making it the #1 holder) and that it has already met with the company to convey its concerns. Trian believes that SYY has underperformed relative to its potential and that it should improve margins, working capital efficiency, consider additional leverage for buyback, and better align mgmt. compensation with company performance.