Peltz Aims to Chip-Shot Aussie Golfer Onto Heinz Board

08 March 2006

Interventionist shareholder Nelson Peltz has made his expected move on H J Heinz [WAMN: 02-Mar-06], naming five nominees he wants to shoehorn onto the company's board.

Triumphant after last week's putsch at fast food chain Wendy's International, Peltz' investment vehicle Trian Partners has nominated Peltz himself plus four others as candidates for election to Heinz' board of directors.

Two of the four, Peter May and Edward Garden, are directors of Trian and close associates of Peltz; the third nominee is another Peltz confidante, Michael Weinstein, chairman of Inov8 Beverages, a marketing firm specializing in soft drinks.

But the real eyebrow-raiser is the fifth nominee - Australian professional golfer Greg Norman, whose business experience is limited to the design of golf courses and the touting of sportswear bearing his name.

Peltz has yet to state publicly the cause of his dissatisfaction with Heinz, although this is presumably based on the group's stagnant share price and unexceptional profits record.

In its fiscal third quarter, Heinz net income fell 23% year-on-year to $116.6 million (€97.78m; £66.49m) from $152.4m (or 35 cents a share from 43 cents). The decline arose from a 43% hike in interest expenses and a $47.4m charge for asset disposal.

Sensing an impending attack on his management record, Heinz' managerial trinity William R Johnson, who single-handedly holds down the roles of chairman, president, and ceo, was in defensive mode: "Over the past three years, Heinz has transformed itself to focus on leading brands and core categories to maximise shareholder value," he said.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff