US food group ConAgra Brands has ended its cooperation agreement with activist investor Jana Partners.

The maker of Hunt’s ketchup and Marie Callender’s microwave dinners had an understanding with JANA Partners dating back to 2015 when it and the investor reached a deal for two new mutually agreed directors to join Conagra’s board.

It announced the agreement’s termination in a disclosure to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Jana Partners regularly takes positions on consumer-good companies with a view to pushing through strategic change and extracting value.

It was revealed in April  Jana had taken a 9.5% stake in Conagra’s local peer Pinnacle Foods. It is said to favour a deal between the two food groups.

It was widely assumed the Jana-approved directors on the Conagra board could help facilitate such a transaction but, although Conagra held talks to acquire Pinnacle last year, it could not clinch a deal.

Conagra said its tie-up with Jana ended by mutual agreement. 

just-food Commentary from April 2018: What might Pinnacle Foods’ new activist investor mean for US group?