In big blow to activist Third Point, Campbell heirs to stand with company

  • Third Point responds, saying: "It is hardly news that the entrenched family owners, who have long enriched themselves at the expense of shareholders and the company, seek to preserve their board seats and reign of error."
  • Dan Loeb's activist fund has a 6.98 percent stake in Campbell.
  • Third Point is trying to replace all 12 of Campbell's directors at the company's Nov. 29 shareholder meeting.

Campbell Soup heirs who hold roughly 41 percent of the company's shares came out in support of the soup company on Wednesday in its battle with activist investor Dan Loeb.

The descendants include Charlotte C. Weber and current board members Bennett Dorrance, Mary Alice Dorrance Malone and Archbold van Beuren.

Their support represents a significant blow to Loeb's Third Point hedge fund, which has been pushing to oust all 12 of Campbell's directors at its Nov. 29 shareholder meeting. He has also called for a sale of the soup company. Loeb has partnered with George Strawbridge Jr., another descendant of the founder, a likely play to pressure family members.

Strawbridge earlier this year revealed a 2.7 percent stake. Loeb has 6.98 percent stake.

Third Point responded in a statement, saying: "It is hardly news that the entrenched family owners, who have long enriched themselves at the expense of shareholders and the company, seek to preserve their board seats and reign of error."

Descendants of John T. Dorrance, the inventor of condensed soup, have not always been aligned on whether the best option for the soup company is to sell or stay independent.

Among those most loyal to the company are Bennett Dorrance and Mary Alice Dorrance Malone, children of Campbell's former chairman. The two, who hold 33 percent of the company, are considered some of Loeb's toughest family foes by people familiar with the family dynamics.

It has been less clear how their cousin Archbold van Beuren would vote. He is one of the few family members who has held multiple senior roles at Campbell. He is a family trustee in the Campbell Voting Trust, through which other descendants hold a combined 7.9 percent stake.

Charlotte Weber, also a cousin to Mary Alice and Bennett, holds shares outside the Campbell Voting Trust.

Campbell shares were down 3.4 percent Wednesday afternoon.