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April 26, 2006

US: Heinz under increasing pressure from activist investors

Heinz has referred the proposal from Trian Fund Management, a group of investors lead by billionaire Nelson Peltz who collectively own a 5.4% stake in the food company, to nominate five board members to its Corporate Governance Committee, a spokesperson for the company told just-food.

Heinz has referred the proposal from Trian Fund Management, a group of investors lead by billionaire Nelson Peltz who collectively own a 5.4% stake in the food company, to nominate five board members to its Corporate Governance Committee, a spokesperson for the company told just-food.

“They’ve made a proposal to put members on our board and we have referred this to our Corporate Governance Committee,” Mike Yeoman said. “We will report back to our shareholders on the Committee’s findings.”

Heinz has come under increasing pressure to aggressively manage its cash flow in order to increase returns to shareholders.

Heinz claims to be committed to this aim and has followed a policy of trimming down its product portfolio, with a spate of recent divestures offloading non-core businesses. However, Yeoman emphasised that this policy has been followed since 2002 and is not a response to shareholder pressure.

“The strategic rationale behind moves to increase brand focus was announced a long time ago – back in 2002. It has taken some time to put the various deals in place but we are now seeing the result of those strategic decisions,” he said.

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