It’s being called the biggest proxy fight in history: activist investor an co-founder of Trian Fund Management, Nelson Peltz, has been trying for months to attain a seat on Procter & Gamble’s (PG - Free Report) board of directors. The company has thus far disallowed the move, fearing disruption from high-profile Peltz. This morning — right now, in fact, P&G is putting it to a vote.
No company remotely this large — P&G has a $235 billion market cap — has ever gone through this. Yet Trian routinely invests in big brand names, of which P&G has many — Charmin, Tide, Head & Shoulders and Downy, just to name a few. Trian itself owns interest in Pepsico (PEP - Free Report) , Mondelez (MDLZ - Free Report) , among others, and just yesterday gained a seat on General Electric’s (GE - Free Report) board. From Peltz’s perspective, this bid should be a slam-dunk. But the consumer discretionary giant has reportedly stated Peltz shouldn’t be granted a seat on the board “just because he can.”
As an activist investor, Peltz has freely shared his opinion that P&G relies too heavily on its established products at the expense of innovation. P&G board members supporting CEO David Taylor, who took the reins not quite two years ago, are not taking kindly to Peltz’s forceful assertion that he should be given the seat. Thus we find ourselves in this current situation.
Wall Streeters voting at P&G would tend to support Peltz’s entry to the board today. But 40% of P&G shareholders are retail, not insiders, and they would more likely be supporting the corporation’s status quo. At 1 P&G Plaza in Cincinnati, OH, the x-factor may be the index funds which swing the balance. Representatives from Vanguard, BlackRock (BLK - Free Report) , and the like are considering whether to push P&G in a more aggressive direction under Peltz’s influence, or safeguard this staple corporation of Southern Ohio.
P&G currently employs roughly 95K people worldwide. Should Peltz win himself a seat, many feel he would push to further consolidate its workforce, which has already been trimmed more than 25% since the company put its internal reforms into play five years ago. Pre-market trading for PG shares are up slightly, though the stock has traded down over the past month. That said, PG still trades up near all-time highs.