LONDON

Activist Investor Nelson Peltz Buys Stake in Unilever

Activist Investor Nelson Peltz Buys Stake in Unilever

LONDON—Trian Fund Administration LP, the activist hedge fund run by

Nelson Peltz,

has acquired a stake in

Unilever


UL -0.18%

PLC, based on individuals conversant in the matter, including stress to the packaged meals and shopper items big in the wake of its failed $68-billion bid for

GlaxoSmithKline


GSK 0.49%

PLC’s shopper well being enterprise.

The scale of the stake couldn’t be realized. Trian began shopping for Unilever shares effectively earlier than its bids for the GSK unit surfaced earlier this month, one of many individuals mentioned.

Unilever’s shares have been underneath stress in current months because it has struggled to spice up volumes. Analysts say it has underperformed some rivals through the pandemic in areas corresponding to hygiene and packaged meals and hasn’t launched any blockbuster improvements in a while.

The corporate confronted sturdy opposition from traders to its plan to purchase the GSK healthcare enterprise, with analysts pointing to its blended file on a number of different massive acquisitions. Critics mentioned the London-based firm can be overpaying for the GSK enterprise, and that it ought to deal with turning round its current classes moderately than taking up new ones during which it had little expertise.

Trian’s stake in Unilever was earlier reported by the Monetary Occasions.

Unilever Chief Govt

Alan Jope

late final 12 months kicked off the trouble to purchase the buyer well being enterprise that GSK has mentioned it’s making ready to spin off. Unilever mentioned the deal can be a part of an effort to push additional into well being, magnificence and hygiene merchandise, on the expense of slower-growing meals manufacturers. The bid and the pivot to well being amounted to Unilever’s largest strategic shift in years. It mentioned on the time that any massive acquisitions would seemingly be accompanied by vital divestitures.

However the effort faltered amid intense opposition from Unilever shareholders, whereas GSK held out for a greater worth. Mr. Jope final week mentioned he wouldn’t increase Unilever’s final supply, basically placing the deal on ice. Unilever mentioned it was dedicated to bettering the efficiency of its current manufacturers, together with by a coming reorganization, and rotating its portfolio into higher-growth classes.

Some analysts and traders say Mr. Jope’s credibility has taken a success from the episode.

Trian’s stake comes a couple of years after the New York agency purchased into Unilever rival

Procter & Gamble Co.

Mr. Peltz in 2017 narrowly won a P&G board seat, in what was on the time the costliest proxy struggle in U.S. historical past.

Mr. Peltz has beforehand served on the board of different shopper items firms, together with Oreos maker

Mondelez International Inc.

and Heinz. In some previous activist campaigns, he has sought to interrupt up firms, although that wasn’t a purpose in his P&G involvement.

Analysts and traders have referred to as for Unilever to jump-start its personal gross sales development in a means much like P&G’s turnaround, together with by divesting slower-growing manufacturers and turning round its core enterprise.

P&G on the time of Mr. Peltz’s involvement was combating intense competitors, rising supplies prices and its personal forms. The Cincinnati-based firm has since succeeded in upgrading customers to premium variations of its merchandise. It additionally shed mass-market magnificence manufacturers and led the business in a transfer to lift costs to offset commodity prices and fatten revenue margins.

Extra just lately, P&G has benefited from massive gross sales positive factors made by the pandemic, including through higher prices. Mr. Peltz late final 12 months left P&G’s board.

Write to Cara Lombardo at cara.lombardo@wsj.com, Saabira Chaudhuri at saabira.chaudhuri@wsj.com and Costas Paris at costas.paris@wsj.com

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