Danone’s third-largest shareholder calls for a management reorganization

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Danone came under further pressure to reorganize its management on Thursday after a second shareholder criticized the French food and beverage group’s share price performance and urged it to split the roles of chairman and chief executive officer, which they are jointly occupied by Emmanuel Faber. Artisan Partners said it had accumulated a stake of more than 3% in Danone BN, + 2.21%, making it the third largest shareholder, as it called for a structural change at the Paris-based company that makes brands. of yogurt, including Actimel and Activia. as well as Evian bottled water.

The move comes just three weeks after London-based activist investor Bluebell Capital Partners urged Faber to resign, following the group’s underperforming share price, which it said had been boosted “by a combination of a poor operating history and questionable capital allocation options. “Bluebell also called for CEO and chairman roles to be separated. Read: Danone shares rise as activist investor begins to rack up pressure In a letter sent to Danone’s independent director Gilles Schnepp, which went public Thursday , Artisan said the group had “one of the best collections of assets in the global food industry,” but its performance, which has lagged “in almost every measure,” is not consistent with the quality of its assets. Danone had not invested enough in innovation, product development and product support Danone shares, which have fallen nearly 29% in the last 12 months, were up 2.32% in European afternoon trading. Read: Investor activist targets French food group Danone. What that could mean for stocks. Artisan also said he had devised a plan together with consumer industry executive Jan Bennink, who previously He had personally run Danone’s dairy business, to help reverse the group’s performance.

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“Our plan is based on long-term fundamental growth and value creation. It is not based on financial engineering, a business breakdown, or the sale of the business. “” – Artisan Partners

“Our plan is based on long-term fundamental growth and value creation. It is not based on financial engineering, a business breakdown, or the sale of the business. It is designed to increase the value of the company for all stakeholders in the medium and long term, ”the US fund manager wrote in the letter. In response, Danone DANOY, + 2.08% said in a statement Thursday that it welcomed the “constructive views on how we deliver long-term sustainable value”, adding that it had already taken “important steps to strengthen its governance.” The group is due to present its results for the entire year on February 19. Read: Unilever sets its growth hopes on plant-based food and beauty. Why are stocks falling? In November, Faber announced a reorganization aimed at positioning Danone 0KFX, + 2.52% for the post-COVID-19 world, including cutting up to 2,000 jobs, or 2% of its global workforce, and conducting a strategic review of your portfolio of brands. It said this would start with Vega, the brand of plant-based protein powders it acquired as part of its $ 10.4 billion acquisition of U.S. organic food producer WhiteWave, as well as assets worth € 500 million (€ 680 million). dollars) in Argentina. Together, the two companies represent approximately 2% of the group’s sales. “Danone is beginning another reorganization involving a new structure that has not proven successful at other global food companies,” Artisan said, adding that the group could also be considering mergers or divestitures that could further complicate or weaken the business.