Third Point reportedly wants to replace Campbell Soup's entire board

  • Activist investor Daniel Loeb's hedge fund Third Point is looking to replace Campbell Soup's entire board, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
  • The soup company announced last week it is selling its international and fresh food businesses, as the 149-year-old condensed-soup maker struggles to regain its financial footing and refocus on its signature packaged foods.
  • But the hedge fund believes a fresh slate of directors would put all options for Campbell back on the table.

Activist investor Daniel Loeb's hedge fund Third Point is looking to replace Campbell Soup's entire board, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Such a campaign would shine an unprecedented spotlight on the three descendants of Campbell's founder who sit on the soup company's board. Two of those descendants, Bennett Dorrance and Mary Alice Dorrance Malone, together hold a 33 percent stake in Campbell. The fiercely private siblings, whose father served as Campbell chairman, have resisted past pressure to sell the company.

The third family member on the board is Archie Van Buren, nephew to Bennett and Mary Alice. Van Buren is a trustee in the Campbell Voting Trust, through which other descendants together hold a combined 7.9 percent stake in the company.

Campbell requires two-thirds shareholder vote approval for a deal.

The company announced last week it is selling its international and fresh food businesses, as the 149-year-old condensed-soup maker struggles to regain its financial footing and refocus on its signature packaged foods. The announcement came after a three-month critical review, propelled by disappointing earnings and the surprise departure of Campbell's CEO.

Last week's announcement, though, was underwhelming to Third Point, the Journal reported. The hedge fund believes a fresh slate of directors would put all options for Campbell back on the table.

Cans of Campbell's Tomato Soup
Getty Images
Cans of Campbell's Tomato Soup

Third Point could put forward its slate of directors as soon as this week, though the deadline to nominate directors is Sept. 16.

The executives it plans to nominate include: Third Point's Munib Islam and Matthew Cohen, former Uber Technologies executive Bozoma Saint John and Michael Silverstein, an executive at private equity firm Carlyle Group, according to the report.

It will also nominate four people with prior history with Campbell, including George Strawbridge Junior and William Toler, the former CEO of Hostess Brands, the report said.

Strawbridge, himself a descendant of the Campbell Soup founder, earlier this year disclosed his stake in the soup company and announced he is teaming up with Loeb in his battle.

Strawbridge served on the Campbell board from 1988 to 2009. A businessman in his own right with ventures that include a stake in the NHL's Buffalo Sabres, Strawbridge was active and quizzical while on the board, according to a person who sat in on the meetings.

Read the full report in The Wall Street Journal.