A report by French business magazine Challenges has revealed that Bluebell bought shares in Danone at the end of last year and has since sent a letter to management calling for a review of the company’s governance and strategy.
The London-based activist fund has asked for the chairman and CEO roles to be split and has called on current chairman and CEO Emmanuel Faber to step down. Danone did not comment about Faber’s position.
In an emailed statement to FoodBev in response to Challenges’ report, a Danone spokesperson said: “We value constructive dialogue with all our shareholders. The leadership team of Danone is highly focused on delivering long-term sustainable value for our shareholders.”
In order to deliver more profitable results, Danone announced a major reorganisation of the business and up to 2,000 staff cuts back in November. The company revealed plans to group its three businesses (dairy and vegetable products, specialised nutrition and water) by geographical area. The owner of Evian and Volvic had been witnessing declining sales in its waters unit, as it suffered during lockdown.
“The first stage of this plan includes an ambitious adaptation plan to return Danone to profitable growth in less than 12 months, as soon as H2 2021 and for our recurring operating margin to return to its pre-Covid levels at more than 15% by 2022,” said Danone in an emailed statement.
“On December 14th we also announced plans to reinforce our governance by creating a new Strategy and Transformation Committee to assist in overseeing the evolving strategic plan for the company.”
The company also announced the departure of CFO Cecile Cabanis, however Reuters reported that she had since been appointed to the newly-created role of non-executive vice chairman.
Meanwhile, Danone told FoodBev that its “leadership team looks forward to sharing additional elements of the plan in subsequent investor updates