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Third Point says it would consider Campbell split

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New York-based hedge fund Third Point LLC said it will consider splitting Campbell Soup Co. into two “better focused” companies, one grocery and the other snacks, should it successfully replace the company’s board of directors with its own independent slate.

An online presentation detailed Third Point’s intentions for the first 100 days of its potential Campbell takeover. Also on the table: Conducting an analysis of Campbell’s recent strategic review and potentially appointing former Hostess CEO Bill Toler as interim CEO, if needed.

Additionally, Third Point outlined plans for further innovation within Campbell’s soup category and to grow its snacks category through acquiring smaller, better-for-you snacks while exploring divestitures in non-core products, like its Pepperidge Farm line of frozen cakes.

Not on the table at this time: A total sale of Campbell.

In a letter to Campbell shareholders last week, Les Vinney, chairman of Campbell’s board of directors, said Third Point was only interested in pursuing an immediate sale of the company.

However, a source familiar with the plan told NJBIZ that isn’t Third Point’s intention, adding the hedge fund has said several times in the past two months it does not think a sale is possible at this time.

“What [Third Point] originally said had a nuance — it was that a sale was the only option during the strategic review period with this board and no CEO in place,” the source said.

If Third Point wins, said the source, it would be open to any strategic option that saves Campbell from further deterioration.

In response to Third Point’s 100 Days presentation, Campbell’s published a statement saying, “Third Point’s campaign to seize control of the Board can be summed up as follows, ‘Vote for us and we’ll think of something.’”

Three descendants of Campbell Soup inventor John Dorrance own 37 percent of outstanding shares of the company, and are on the current board of directors which Third Point intends to replace. A source familiar with Third Point’s plan said it has met with or been in communication with family members, including some who have served on the board.

Campbell did not return request for further comment by press time.

In its published response to Third Point’s plan, Campbell said, “Third Point’s presentation is riddled with inaccuracies, half-truths, simple generalizations, and vague recommendations, all of which demonstrate their limited understanding of food industry dynamics and of Campbell’s business.

“The Campbell Board conducted a comprehensive review informed by outside advisors, and it remains confident that its go-forward strategy represents the best path forward for the company and its shareholders at this time.”

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Gabrielle Saulsbery

Gabrielle Saulsbery

Albany, N.Y. native Gabrielle Saulsbery is a staff writer for NJBIZ and the newest thing in New Jersey. You can contact her at gsaulsbery@njbiz.com.

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