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DuPont Chief Executive Ellen Kullman

DuPont Wins Proxy Battle Against Activist Peltz

May 13, 2015
U.S. chemical giant DuPont prevailed Wednesday in a hard-fought proxy battle with billionaire investor Nelson Peltz.

U.S. chemical giant DuPont prevailed Wednesday in a hard-fought proxy battle with billionaire investor Nelson Peltz.

Shareholders elected all 12 nominees sponsored by the company, DuPont said in a statement that made no mention of Peltz, his hedge fund, Trian Fund Management, or the four Trian nominees put forth during the months-long campaign.

"We are pleased with the outcome of the vote and especially appreciate the strong expressions of support from so many of our shareholders for our strategic transformation and the continued execution of our plan," said DuPont chief executive Ellen Kullman. 

"We look forward to continuing to execute our strategic plan to make DuPont a higher-growth, higher-value company."

Trian, which holds 2.7 percent of DuPont, had said earlier it expected to lose after a "close" election. "We will continue to closely monitor DuPont's performance," Trian pledged. 

"Regardless of the voting results, we believe that going forward, DuPont stockholders will be less tolerant of continued missed earnings guidance, extraordinary charges, value-destructive acquisitions and divestitures, executive compensation that is not aligned with performance, and operating metrics such as revenue growth and margins that fail to meet DuPont’s own targets."

While big companies like DuPont are often confronted with shareholder activists, live votes at annual meetings have become a rarity. 

Only one third of 603 shareholder resolutions since 2009 have actually gone to vote, according to Factset. Most have been settled.

Both sides had spent heavily in a bruising campaign over the future of a 213-year-old company that produces insecticides, enzymes for food production and a variety of specialty chemical products.

Peltz's Trian had depicted DuPont as a chronic and wasteful underperformer that repeatedly misses its profit targets. Peltz and three others had run for the board, arguing they could shake up the company and improve shareholder returns.

DuPont had argued that it was already reforming itself, returning billions of dollars to shareholders, restructuring the company's holdings and positioning itself to capitalize on its research advances in chemicals and agriculture technology.

Dow member DuPont sank 6.0% to $69.92 in early trade.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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