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Activist investor Nelson Peltz joins Unilever’s board

Kimberly Chin
May 31, 2022
Nelson Peltz, Founding Partner and CEO, Trian Fund Management
Photo: NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Activist investor Nelson Peltz will join Unilever’s board as a non-executive director, the company said yesterday, after disclosing Peltz's firm had built a 1.5% stake in the roughly $120 billion company.

Why it matters: Peltz’s enlistment in the Dove soap and Hellmann’s mayonnaise parent’s board is likely to signal a drastic shakeup, just as the company faces pressure to boost sales amid lackluster share performance versus peers over recent years.

  • Unilever's failed bids to buy GlaxoSmithKline’s consumer health care division earlier this year have also soured investors on the company.

Driving the news: With its stake, Peltz's Trian Partners is one of Unilever's largest shareholders.

  • Peltz will join the board on July 20 and will also become a member of its compensation committee.

What they’re saying: “Nelson’s experience in the global consumer goods industry will be of value to Unilever as we continue to drive the performance of our business,” the company said in a statement.

State of play: Peltz is known as an agitator of turnarounds, namely in consumer goods companies.

  • Most recently, Peltz’s stint on the board of Procter & Gamble (which came after a months-long proxy fight) saw sales improve at the Cincinnati company and its share price increase nearly 80% during his time on the board. He joined in March 2018 and left last year.
  • He has also served on the boards of Kraft Heinz and Oreo's parent Mondelez.

Of note: Wendy’s is also on Trian’s menu, with the activist hedge fund pushing for a potential sale or strategic transaction of the fast-food chain last week.

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