Campbell Gadfly Keeps Up the Pressure

By Pan Demetrakakes, Senior Editor

Oct 01, 2018

An activist investor who is trying to overhaul the board of Campbell Soup Co. is keeping up the pressure, releasing a report that calls its past year “particularly disastrous.”

Dan Loeb of hedge fund Third Point is arguing that Campbell should sell off divisions like Pop Secret popcorn and focus more on its core soup business. Loeb asserted in a report to investors presented Oct. 1 that Campbell could earn up to $58 per share in a sale, an increase of more than 50% over its current stock price.

Loeb’s report criticized Campbell’s acquisition of snack processor Snyder’s-Lance for $6 billion in March as “ill-timed” and said Campbell has generally overpaid for recent acquisitions. Loeb is seeking to either sell the company or have it sell off non-core brands.

Third Point owns 8.4% of Campbell Soup. Loeb’s allies include George Strawbridge, a descendant of the company’s founding Dorrance family, whom Loeb is trying to seat on the board. Two other Dorrance descendants, siblings Bennett Dorrance and Mary Alice Dorrance Malone, hold about a third of the company’s stock between them and are seen as Loeb’s most prominent opponents.

Campbell spokesman Thomas Hushen commented: “On Aug. 30, following a comprehensive board-led strategy and portfolio review, Campbell announced a clear and executable path forward to maximize shareholder value. The board considered all options during the review, including selling the company. The board is confident that this plan is the best path forward for Campbell at this time. Management is focused on implementing the plan and setting the foundation for sustainable, profitable growth in fiscal 2020 and beyond. Importantly, the board remains committed to evaluating all strategic options to enhance value in the future.”