Relational Investors LLC’s co-founder Ralph Whitworth said his activist fund has taken a stake in foodmaker Mondelez International Inc. (MDLZ) and is in discussions with management to push for changes.
“We have a big position in Mondelez and we’re working behind the scenes to try to urge change there,” Whitworth said today at the Active-Passive Investor Summit in New York. “We’re having conversations with the management, and Nelson Peltz is on the board.”
Founded in 1996 by Whitworth and David Batchelder, Relational buys stakes in companies it considers undervalued and then lobbies management and boards for changes to boost investor returns. In recent years the firm has targeted industrial companies including equipment manufacturer SPX Corp. (SPW), bearings maker Timken Co. and machinery builder Illinois Tool Works Inc. For the past year, Whitworth has served as interim chairman of Hewlett-Packard Co. after urging changes to turnaround the largest personal-computer maker.
San Diego-based Relational, which manages about $6 billion, also holds stakes in energy group Hess Corp. (HES), agricultural commodity processor Bunge Ltd., snacks supplier Mondelez International Inc., x-ray maker Hologic Inc., and air-conditioning manufacturer Ingersoll-Rand Plc, according to its most recent holdings disclosures.
Activist investors tend to buy at least 5 percent of a company’s stock and flag their intention to actively engage corporate executives and directors by disclosing their holding in a 13D filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
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