Unilever Surges After Appointing Activist Nelson Peltz to its Board

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Unilever Surges After Appointing Activist Nelson Peltz to its Board
Credit: © Reuters.

By Geoffrey Smith

Investing.com -- Unilever (AS: ULVR ) stock rose 7.48% at the open on Tuesday after the consumer giant said it had appointed US-based activist investor Nelson Peltz as a non-executive director.

The move represents a big concession to outside shareholders who have long pressed for more outside influence on its strategy after suffering years of relative underperformance.

Pressure on the board increased earlier this year after it bid what was seen to be an unrealistically high sum of 50 billion pounds ($63 billion) for the healthcare arm of GlaxoSmithKline (LON: GSK ).

Unilever stock has been on a downward trend since July last year, and the stock sold off heavily after the company warned that inflation would compress its profit margins this year.

Peltz’s Trian fund holds a stake of around 1.5% in the British-based consumer staples company, making it the group’s fourth-largest shareholder. Peltz has a long history of trying to squeeze value out of the consumer staples sector, having previously held board seats at Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG ) as well as food companies Heinz (NASDAQ: KHC ), and Mondelez (NASDAQ: MDLZ ).

"We have held extensive and constructive discussions with him and the Trian team and believe that Nelson's experience in the global consumer goods industry will be of value to Unilever," the company’s chairman Nils Andersen said in a statement.

Peltz will join the board as of July 20, Unilever said.

Unilever was the best-performing stock in the FTSE 100 as of 3:10 AM ET (0710 GMT).

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