Shareholder activist battles can be long and brutal, with both sides spending a lot of money to push their agenda. The ongoing proxy battle between chemical giant DuPont and activist hedge fund Trian is coming down to crunch time, with DuPont management making its latest move on Thursday..
Trian announced plans to nominate its own slate of four directors including CEO Nelson Peltz back in January. In a counter-move on Thursday, February 5th DuPont made a public regulatory filing noting that it interviewed Trian’s nominees and could approve one to serve on the BoD, but that the hedge fund had rejected that offer and refused all compromise offers that did include nominating Peltz to the board.
On Thursday, DuPont also appointed Edward Breen and James Gallogly, who are not among Trian’s nominees, as independent directors to its board.
More on DuPont – Trian proxy battle
Trian has nominated John Myers, Arthur Winkleblack, Robert Zatta and Peltz for election to DuPont’s BoD at the firm’s 2015 annual general meeting.
Zatta has been acting CEO of specialty chemicals maker Rockwood Holdings for around six months and Winkleblack is on the boards of consumer goods maker Church & Dwight Co and RTI International Metals. Myers is a former CEO of GE Asset Management.
Peltz wrote an open letter to DuPont earlier this fall where he called for the the iconic chemical titan to split up and argued there was as much as $4 billion in cost savings by doing so.
In reply, DuPont has repeatedly emphasized the advantages of keeping all of its divisions together. Earlier last year, the firm did announce it was planning to spin off its performance chemical business, which represents nearly 20% of its total revenue.
Trian and investment funds it controls hold 24.3 million DuPont shares, a 2.68% stake worth about $1.8 billion at today’s share price.
Of note, DuPont has not yet offered a recommended slate of director nominees for the 2015 annual meeting or announced a date for the meeting.
If DuPont management refuses to include Peltz’s candidates in its “recommended” slate, Trian could undertake a proxy contest and put his alternative slate of directors on the ballot for shareholders to vote on at the meeting.