Procter & Gamble Co. shareholders voted against putting activist investor Nelson Peltz on the board after a bruising battle in which management and Peltz traded months of insults over one another's competence or qualifications.
The next step remains unclear, but Peltz, who runs the Trian Partners hedge fund, historically hasn't walked away after such a defeat and could wait in the wings for chances to shape how the world's biggest advertiser runs its business. In announcing the vote, Chairman-CEO David Taylor said the company will continue to seek to "work constructively" with Peltz.
Peltz said he wouldn't seek to fire Taylor or break up the company, but proposed dividing it into three largely autonomous business units. The two sides waged the biggest marketing effort ever around a proxy fight, spending an estimated $60 million collectively.
"This morning proxy solicitors told me that this proxy contest is extremely close," Peltz said during remarks at the meeting before the vote was announced. "But I want you to know win or lose the shareholders have spoken. Either way, today's vote is a vote for bold change. The board owes it to shareholders to really study the issues of structure and the issues of culture."