(Adds Starboard and analyst quotes; updates share price)
March 20 (Reuters) - Four of Starboard Value's nominees to Newell Brands Inc's board of directors withdrew their nominations, a day after the company rebuffed the activist hedge fund's challenge by giving billionaire investor Carl Icahn four board seats.
If Starboard does decide to contest board elections at Newell, it would reduce its slate of nominees to a minority of the board, the Jeffrey Smith-led hedge fund said on Tuesday.
New Jersey-based Newell, known for its Sharpie pens and Rubbermaid household items, has over the past month wrangled with Starboard, which initially wanted to replace the company's entire board with its own 12-member slate.
Starboard argues that the consumer products maker has underperformed its peers since buying Jarden Corp in a $15 billion deal in 2016. To mount its challenge, Starboard teamed up with former Jarden executives who had left Newell's board.
Newell has said that Starboard has not presented any substantial plans to boost shareholder value.
Starboard said on Tuesday that Ian Ashken, Domenico De Sole, Martin Franklin and James Lillie all former Jarden executives had withdrawn their nominations.
"We believe that our collective actions have moved (Newell) substantially ... given the circumstances, we plan to focus on other opportunities but fully support Starboard in their deliberations," Franklin said in a statement.
"(Starboard is) putting the fight on hold, waiting to see how the company does with Icahn's people on the board," said Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.
Newell struck a deal on Monday with Icahn to appoint four of his nominees to its board, in a snub to Starboard.
Starboard owns about 4.5 percent of Newell, while Icahn holds 6.86 percent, a stake he disclosed on Friday.
Icahn said his views on company strategy were aligned with those of Newell, including on its "expanded transformation plan" that includes selling off more businesses than originally planned.
Starboard said on Tuesday Newell should work with its advisers to consider strategic alternatives for all its businesses, instead of the roughly 50 percent of assets that Newell is considering selling.
Starboard, however, maintained that Newell was still undervalued and that there was plenty of room to boost value.
Newell declined to comment. Its shares, which fell as much as 7 percent on Monday, were off 1.5 percent on Tuesday morning. (Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar)