January 18, 2019 / 10:24 AM / in 3 months

Pernod Ricard says it is seeking to improve governance

PARIS, Jan 18 (Reuters) - French family-backed spirits group Pernod Ricard, which is being targeted by activist investor Elliott, said it is striving to improve its governance and will communicate on future changes once they have been approved by its board.

“We have not needed any external input as regards our continuous drive to seek to improve our governance,” said a company spokesman to Reuters.

“We will continue, at the appropriate moment, to announce further changes, once they have been proposed, discussed and adopted by the board and its committee,” he added on Friday.

Pernod Ricard is holding a board meeting on Jan. 23.

On Thursday, BFM Business reported that Pernod - which owns Absolut vodka and Martell cognac - will make changes to its board in coming weeks, with vice-chairman Pierre Pringuet among those that could take a step back.

Elliott, which has become more active in Europe in recent years, said in December it had spent around 930 million euros ($1.1 billion) building a stake of just over 2.5 percent in Pernod Ricard. Elliott has called on Pernod to improve profit margins and governance.

Elliott believes Pernod’s 14-member board needs more independence and diversity as many directors are linked to the Ricard family.

Elliott and Pernod managers met on Jan. 15 and agreed to continue discussions on margins and governance, a source close to the matter told Reuters earlier this week. (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon and Pascale Denis; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

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