Dan Loeb Takes Aim at Family Members in Bid for Campbell Board Seats

(Bloomberg) -- Dan Loeb is going after the descendants of John Dorrance, the early 20th century Campbell Soup Co. executive credited with inventing condensed soup.

The activist investor, seeking a complete overhaul of the struggling soup maker’s directors, singled out Bennett and Mary Alice Dorrance Malone, the sibling pair that has served on the board for decades. Together, they control about 33 percent of the company’s stock, according to a proxy filing last year. The latest proxy filing last fall listed their ages as 71 and 67, respectively.

“We can only conclude that the board remains beholden to the sentimental agenda of its vocal and empowered minority -- the two longstanding family representatives to the board who have stubbornly opposed options to create maximum value for all shareholders for decades,” Loeb said in a letter released publicly on Friday. “At this point, it would be simply reckless to leave the board that caused this mess in charge of fixing it.”

Loeb wants to replace all 12 directors on Campbell’s board. His nominations include investor George Strawbridge, who has partnered with the activist’s New York hedge fund Third Point to push for changes at Campbell. Together, they control about 8.4 of the stock.

They face a sizable obstacle to their goal: The block of shares held by the company’s founding family would likely allow them to prevent a takeover or a push for board representation by Loeb.

Campbell conducted a strategic review after the sudden departure of Chief Executive Officer Denise Morrison in May. While Loeb has pushed for a sale of the company, Campbell last week said it would instead divest its international operations and ill-fated fresh-food unit.

Campbell shares are down about 16 percent this year.

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