Campbell Names New Chairman as Soupmaker's Activist Battle Ends

(Bloomberg) -- Campbell Soup Co. chose former interim Chief Executive Officer Keith McLoughlin, 62, as chairman to replace Les Vinney, who’s retiring.

  • Vinney, 70, has been on the board since 2003 and chairman since 2015, and he’s retiring “due to other personal commitments,” the company said in a statement.

Key Insights

  • The promotion puts McLoughlin back in a driver’s seat -- though a different one than where he spent much of the last year as interim CEO. During that nearly nine-month stint, the company released its turnaround plan -- including selling the international and fresh food units -- which initially fell short of investor Dan Loeb’s demands for a full sale of the company. The two sides ultimately made peace.
  • In November, Campbell reached a settlement with Loeb’s Third Point, agreeing to give the activist two seats on the company’s board as well as a say in choosing a new chief executive officer. The following month, it named as its chief Mark Clouse, former CEO of Pinnacle Foods Inc. Shares have inched up since the news of his appointment, perhaps giving Vinney the confidence he needed to move on.
  • The company is also naming former Hershey Co. CEO J.P. Bilbrey, 62, to the board. As part of the settlement, Campbell agreed to consult with Third Point before naming someone to the open director role. Sara Mathew, board member since 2005, will also retire.

Market Reaction

  • The news sent the shares up slightly in aftermarket trading. The stock rose 0.9 percent in New York.

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