The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) has thrown its weight behind the current Heinz board in the proxy contest between the Trian Group and Heinz management. The nation’s largest public pension fund has said that it will use its 1.66m shares to re-elect all 12 members of Heinz’ board, a decision that Heinz told just-food demonstrated that the company is on the right track to drive returns to shareholders.
Heinz’ decision to add two new independent directors to the board was one of the reasons CalPERS cited when it offered its support to the existing board. This move was designed to counter the criticism of Nelson Peltz and his Cayman Islands-based hedge fund that Heinz management is not accountable enough.
Heinz said that the support of CalPERS significantly strengthened its hand against Trian in the upcoming Proxy battle.
Michael Mullen, global director of corporate affairs, said: “This strong vote of confidence from CalPERS, a widely respected organization, affirms that Heinz has the right board, the right plan and the right management team to drive shareholder value.”