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DuPont trumps Trian, Peltz in proxy fight

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By Sam Waltz

Delaware Business Times

In an annual meeting that lasted only 45 minutes Wednesday, shareholders of the DuPont Company trumped the dreams of activist investor Nelson Peltz and his Trian Fund, turning down Peltz’ bid to elect 4 directors to the 12-member DuPont Company Board.

Specific vote totals were not announced, but the corporate secretary reported the votes were sufficient to re-elect the DuPont Company’s 12 candidates. Shareholders – except for the row and one-half of Trian-affiliated investors, staff and attorneys, about 25 people – gave CEO Ellen Kullman and the DuPont Company’s leadership team a 1-minute standing ovation.

Kullman went on to summarize in a few minutes what she called DuPont’s “important transformations,” particularly citing the planned July 1 spinoff of Chemours as “the most significant step” in the company’s history. She talked about other divestitures as well as changes in the company to point it in a new growth direction.

After the meeting, Peltz continued his objections to DuPont’s current leadership, asserting “the emperor has no clothes.” He said he felt DuPont would not hit its earnings objectives for 2015, which he said would require a 30 percent growth over the last 3 quarters of 2015. If DuPont fails to hit its targets, Peltz essentially said he would be back in 2016 with Proxy Fight #2.

Peltz credited DuPont with its success in wooing what he called “the retail investors,” the every day investors who own DuPont stock, as well as the index funds. He noted Trian’s success in attracting support from the three national investment advisory services, as well as many other opinion leaders. He also credited DuPont with success in wooing support of the press, although the press as a whole seemed largely to remain neutral on the issue, and many handicapped the proxy fight in favor of Trian and Peltz.

Among the Peltz guests were Martin Lessner, a senior attorney in Wilmington and partner with Young Conaway Stargatt and Taylor, who declined to comment, and George Sard, CEO and Chair of Sard Verbinnen, a large global PR firm advising Trian.

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