Third Point stirs up its fight for Campbell Soup board seats with video

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Image from Third Point LLC's Empty the Can video about Campbell Soup
Image from Third Point LLC's Empty the Can video about Campbell Soup Credit: Third Point LLC

Activist investor Dan Loeb is turning up the pressure on Campbell Soup Co. with a four-minute video urging investors to "empty the can" one day after the founder's descendants dealt a blow to his efforts to oust the entire board.

The video targeting retail investors chronicles "the sad story of Campbell's sustained underperformance and track record of destroying shareholder value," Loeb's Third Point said in a statement. The production "makes clear that fixing Campbell cannot be achieved by 'adding a little salt' or 'trying some gluten-free noodles.'"

The activist investor has criticized the company's performance and the outcome of its recent strategic review, which fell short of his demands for a sale of the company. Campbell instead said it planned to sell its international and fresh food businesses.

Loeb's slate of directors faces an uphill battle after relatives of John Dorrance that together hold about 41 percent of the company's shares said they will vote for its current board at its annual meeting on Nov. 29.

To get all 12 seats, the Dorrance slate would need support for all of its candidates from slightly more than 9 percent of remaining shareholders, if every shareholder casts a ballot next month. Still, there are ways some of Loeb's nominees could still end up on the board without winning the majority of support for his entire slate.

The slate of 12 nominees Third Point has suggested includes ComScore President Sarah Hofstetter and Endeavor Co. CMO Bozoma Saint John. Images of them and the 10 other nominees are seen flowing into a can of Campbell's Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup during the video. Third Point LLC declined to disclose which outside vendors helped it with the video project.

"Third Point is once again attempting to mislead Campbell shareholders by cherry picking its reference points regarding performance," Campbell said in a statement to Ad Age. "Third Point has failed to present any credible ideas for how it proposes creating value for shareholders. A video is not a plan."

Loeb's reference to salt conjures up an activist fight in recent years when Starboard Value took control of the Olive Garden board. The activist firm made headlines criticizing the chain for not salting its pasta water.

-- Bloomberg News, with additional reporting by Ad Age.

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