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Heinz Battle Offers Primer On Proxy Fights

Taub Stephen | August 29, 2006

Ketchup can often be a messy business. This month’s clash for control of Heinz Co. was no different.

All summer long, corporate governance activists have watched the $8.6 billion food giant wage a vicious proxy fight against the Trian Group, a hedge fund headed up by financiers Nelson Peltz and Peter May. The battle reached its zenith on Aug. 16, as shareholders voted on whether to elect any of Trian’s five nominees for the board of directors.

Final results won’t be known until mid-September, but Heinz already concedes that at least one, and possibly two, Trian nominees won seats on the board. Nevertheless, both sides are now proclaiming victory in an episode full of lessons in shareholder activism.

Heinz, not surprisingly, hailed the slim number of successful Trian nominees as proof that its efforts to stimulate faster growth and enhance shareholder value have strong support from stockholders. On the other hand, says Robert McCormick...

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