Famed activist investor Nelson Peltz appears set for another corporate battle at Unilever after warning “huge amounts of people in corporate” can be detrimental to a business.
Peltz’s investment fund Trian has taken a 1.5 per cent stake in the Ben and Jerry’s and Durex-maker, with the firm putting Peltz on the board last week in what has largely been perceived as an effort to head off public scraps.
He told the Sunday Times in an interview that “at Trian we believe just about everybody should be in somebody’s P&L (profit & loss).”
“Huge amount of people in corporate is an L,” he continued.
Unilever has been under the microscope after a perceived lack of dynamism under chief executive Alan Jope, followed by a failed takeover bid of GlaxoSmithKline earlier this year.
Fellow investor Terry Smith also warned that the company had lost its way due to an overarching focus on ESG rather than profit, saying the firm had “lost the plot” trying to ascertain the purpose of Hellmann’s mayonnaise.
Peltz’s arrival on the board will signal more corporate drama after previous high-profile scraps with the leadership of Wendy’s and Procter & Gamble.
“The fox would now appear to be inside the henhouse,” said Jefferies’ analyst Martin Deboo when Trian’s stake in Unilever was first revealed.