DEERFIELD, IL -- Mondelez International Inc. said it will add Nelson Peltz to its board of directors as news surfaced that the activist investor was considering a proxy fight to boost the food giant's profit margins.
Last spring, the billionaire founder of Trian Fund Management, increased his stakes in both Mondelez and PepsiCo, fueling speculation that he may be laying the groundwork to push for a merger of the food and beverage giants. However, Peltz recently signaled a willingness to abandon his efforts to get PepsiCo and Mondelez to merge, according to several news sources.
Peltz is widely regarded as a key influence in the spinoff of Dr Pepper Snapple Group from Cadbury, Kraft's purchase of Cadbury, and the subsequent split of Kraft into Mondelez and Kraft Foods Group Inc.
With the addition of Peltz, the size of Mondelez's board expands to 12 members, including 11 who are independent. Peltz's Trian owns more than 46 million shares of Mondelez.
"Irene Rosenfeld is a CEO who has created substantial value for shareholders over the course of her career," Peltz said. "I look forward to working closely and constructively with Irene, the board and management team toward our shared goals of driving growth, improving margins and increasing value for all shareholders."
Mondelez, which owns Cadbury, Oreo and Nabisco, was spun off from North American grocery company Kraft Foods in 2012.
"We respect his more than 40 years of business and investment experience, as well as his expertise helping consumer products companies leverage their brands and improve operating and financial performance. We welcome his input as we deliver superior shareholder returns," Rosenfeld said.
Peltz serves as nonexecutive chairman of Wendy's Co. He also serves as a director of Legg Mason Inc., an asset-management firm. Peltz is on the board of directors of Ingersoll-Rand Plc and previously was a director of H.J. Heinz Co.