Procter & Gamble Co. doesn’t see its review of a recent investor vote allowing activist investor Nelson Peltz onto its board by a fraction of a percent being as a formal “challenge.”
The beauty and personal-care company said it simply “has not launched a challenge” to preliminary proxy vote results counted by IVS Associates Inc. showing Peltz of hedge fund Trian Capital Management won by 0.0016 percent margin a board seat held by Ernesto Zedillo.
Zedillo is a former president of Mexico and currently an economics professor at Yale. He’s been a P&G director since 2001.
Shares of the company ticked down 0.6 percent during morning trading to $88.18, generally in line with prices for the month so far.
P&G said the vote is “going through a customary review to ensure a final and accurate count,” adding that this is “part of the normal process” and not an official challenge of the results.
A formal challenge of a proxy vote, colloquially dubbed the “snake pit,” generally entails a set of contested votes being identified and a subsequent investigation of each.
Earlier on Wednesday, Trian called out P&G for deciding to “review and challenge” the vote results. It added that P&G should “reconsider its decision” and seat Peltz “immediately.”
“The inspector’s report was the first independent tabulation of all proxies and ballots submitted to the inspector by both P&G and Trian, and it was released only after the inspector completed a careful five-week process,” Trian added. “Based on that tabulation, shareholders have sent a strong message to P&G: They want Nelson Peltz to join the board.”
Beyond that, Trian said “shareholders should be concerned that P&G has opted to waste further time and shareholder money” on a challenge of the results. The fund estimates that the months-long proxy battle has cost P&G around $100 million.
When Peltz began pushing for a board seat earlier this year, holding $3.3 billion in P&G stock, he accused the company of underperforming over the last decade and said his goal as a board member would be “increasing sales and profits and regaining lost market share.”
P&G noted at the time that Trian and Peltz offered no “new or actionable ideas to drive value for P&G shareholders beyond the continued successful execution of the strategic plan that is in place.”
That plan has seen the company divest more than 100 brands over the last two years and shrink its entire product portfolio to 10 categories from 16, with the overall goal of $10 billion in cost reductions. Those reductions are to be reinvested in improved product formulations and packaging, sales coverage and media programs, product sampling and in-store and online demand creation.
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