Unilever plc UL shares traded higher by 8% on Tuesday after the company announced activist investor Nelson Peltz is joining the company's board of directors.
What Happened? On Tuesday morning, Unilever named Peltz a board member and non-executive director. Peltz will serve as a member of the board's compensation committee and work with the company on business strategy. Pelz's hedge fund Trian Fund Management also has a 1.5% ownership stake in Unilever.
Why It's Important: In a statement, Unilever Chair Nils Anderson said the company has been working closely with Peltz since Trian first took a stake in Unilever several months ago.
“We look forward to working collaboratively with management and the Board to help drive Unilever’s strategy, operations, sustainability, and shareholder value,” Peltz said in a statement.
Investors are hoping Peltz can help unlock value in the struggling stock, which is down 22.6% overall in the past three years.
Unilever's management has been under fire since GSK plc GSK rejected Unilever's unsolicited $68.4 billion buyout offer for GSK's consumer healthcare goods unit in January. GSK said at the time that it had rejected a series of three bids from Unilever that the company believed "fundamentally undervalued" its consumer healthcare goods unit.
Peltz has previously served on the boards of consumer goods companies Procter & Gamble Co PG, Kraft Heinz Co KHC and MONDELEZ INTERNATIONAL INC MDLZ. At least two other large Unilever shareholders reportedly pressured the company to add Peltz to the board, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Benzinga's Take: Considering Unilever's slumping sales, lagging share price and inability to close its GSK deal, investors don't have much to lose with Peltz on board. It's unclear what, if anything, Peltz can do to right the ship in the near-term, but the market seems optimistic he'll come up with something to unlock value in the stock.
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