September 12, 2017 / 8:31 PM / 13 days ago

P&G's business structure takes center stage in Trian proxy fight

FILE PHOTO - Nelson Peltz founding partner of Trian Fund Management LP. speak at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach, California, U.S. on October 25, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Trian Partners, the activist fund seeking a seat on Procter & Gamble Co’s (PG.N) board, stepped up its criticism of the company’s business structure on Tuesday, a day after P&G’s chief executive attacked Trian’s proposed reorganization as “dangerous.”

Trian last week released a 94-page plan to boost shares of the consumer products giant, ahead of the Oct. 10 shareholder vote on whether to elect fund co-founder Nelson Peltz as a P&G director.

P&G, the maker of Crest toothpaste and Gillette razors and which has a market value of $232 billion, is fighting to keep Peltz off the board.

Reorganizing P&G into three global business units (GBUs) with presidents of each unit solely responsible, is central to Trian’s plan to boost the company’s stock price, a stance it reinforced on Tuesday.

Speaking at the CNBC Delivering Alpha event, Trian co-founder and chief investment officer Ed Garden cited P&G’s president of Greater China selling and market operations, Matthew Price, to illustrate Trian’s criticism that accountability is unclear across the company’s existing GBUs.

“If sales really reports to GBUs, then which GBU does he report to?” Garden asked, referring to Price and demanding that P&G answer the question in writing.

Garden went on to ask if the reporting lines really demonstrate accountability.

“Everyone in the audience knows that if it’s a dotted line with someone reporting to you and you don’t control their compensation, then it’s a canard,” Garden said.

Trian is P&G’s fifth largest shareholder, owning 1.5 percent of the stock.

P&G has said it already underwent a reorganization, dividing the company into 16 business units across six regions. CEO David Taylor highlighted the new organization at a Barclays conference last week, laying out the new structure in a slide titled “simpler, faster, accountable.”

On Monday, speaking to CNBC commentator Jim Cramer, Taylor criticized Peltz’s proposed structure.

“He’s proposed some things that could be very dangerous to the short term, which is reorganize the company right now,” Taylor said.

Shares of P&G closed down 0.5 percent at $93.51 on Tuesday.

Reporting by Michael Flaherty; Editing by Leslie Adler

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