Heinz has told just-food that, despite the message that Trian has put out, the investor group is blocking certain shareholders from voting via the Internet and over the phone.

As the proxy vote to determine whether Trian is successful in its attempt to get five nominees elected to the ketchup marker's 12-member board draws nearer, dealings between the two camps have become increasingly bitter.

Yesterday (24 July), Heinz accused Trian of blocking the votes of 75m shares held through brokers and other intermediaries via the Internet and over the telephone. Shareholders affected, Heinz said, are retail shareholders holding approximately 30% of outstanding shares. 

Trian hit back, blaming the independent proxy system organised by ADP Proxy Services rather than any action it has taken. "It is not a matter of 'cooperation' as Heinz falsely states," Trian said in a statement. "The fact that Heinz would try to blame the Trian Group for a third party's internal processing matter is simply absurd and a desperate act by Heinz to mislead shareholders."

However, Ted Smyth, SVP & chief administrative officer at Heinz, told just food: "ADP can format the Trian proxy for electronic voting with Trian's agreement."

Indeed, just-food has seen ADP communications that suggest ADP systems are capable of accommodating shareholders currently excluded from electronic voting.

Charles Pasfield of ADP wrote in an email: "ADP would be able to support internet and phone voting. However, our clients are not comfortable allowing us to make any changes to the Trian voting instruction form without Trian's agreement."