Copyright Paul Morigi, Getty Images
DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman

DuPont to Bow Out of Theater Ownership Following Investor Complaint

Jan. 12, 2015
The announcement comes four months after shareholder activists highlighted the asset as an example of DuPont's mismanagement.

Chemical giant DuPont (IW 500/37) is getting ready to take its bow from musical theater.

The chemical company said Monday it will sell a 100-year-old company-owned theater, four months after shareholder activists highlighted the asset as an example of DuPont's mismanagement. 

The Dupont Theatre will be acquired by the Grand Opera House, another performing-arts organization in Wilmington, Del., where DuPont is based. 

The theater will be renamed the Playhouse on Rodney Square, DuPont said. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"The DuPont Theatre represents an important piece of the company's history and a symbol of the thriving arts and entertainment community in Wilmington for over 100 years," said DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman. 

"This agreement represents a strategic and mutually beneficial business decision for DuPont and The Grand, and we are confident it will continue the Theatre's legacy and provide an even greater entertainment experience for the community."

DuPont said the change in ownership will not affect ticket holders for 2014-15. The spring season includes performances of "Camelot" and "Guys and Dolls."

In September, Trian Fund Management, an activist fund headed by Nelson Peltz, cited the theater, along with DuPont's ownership of a hotel and country club, as examples of "excessive" costs, in a letter calling for the DuPont to be broken up into three companies.

On Thursday, Trian restated the demand and nominated Peltz and three others to the DuPont board. 

Trian said it took the action because of board resistance to its efforts to improve DuPont's "flawed business plan." Trian owns about 3% of DuPont shares.

DuPont built the theater and the other hospitality assets to attract employees. 

The theater was once a stopping point for shows before opening on Broadway in New York. 

However, the attractiveness of the Delaware house to production companies has diminished due to its capacity of less than 1,300 seats, said a report in the Wilmington News Journal newspaper.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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