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Trian's Nelson Peltz on Activist Investing, Mondelēz, and the Economy

The takeover artist discusses smart investing, latte-loving kids, and the company he thinks sounds like a disease

Peltz, in his New York office, won seats on Heinz’s board after a proxy fight
Photograph by Mark Peckmezian for Bloomberg Businessweek

Why don’t you tell us about activism. You prefer the word constructivism?
The whole category of activism is very hot today. Everybody used to get their capital from a hedge fund bucket. Now we are starting to see capital coming in from the public equity bucket, which is usually 5 to 10 times larger. You know what term you don’t hear anymore? Arbitrage. The markets have gotten too efficient. Instead of trying to figure out what’s going to happen, we’re buying stock, and our goal is to get that company to do something that’s in the best interest of shareholders. We accomplish it a little differently than most. Our background is operations. The first place we look is the income statement. The majority of activists look at the balance sheet.