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Activist investor Nelson Peltz buys shares in Unilever

London — Trian Fund Management LP, an activist hedge fund run by Nelson Peltz,

Unilever

UL -0.18%

PLC, pressure on packaged food and consumer goods giants, according to people familiar with the matter Triggered by a $ 68 billion bid failure for

GlaxoSmithKline

GSK 0.49%

PLC consumer health business.

I couldn’t know the size of the stake. Trian started buying Unilever shares long ago GSK unit bids surfaced Earlier this month, one said.

Unilever shares have been under pressure in recent months as they struggle to increase their volume. Analysts say they have fallen short of some rivals during pandemics in areas such as hygiene and packaged foods and haven’t started a blockbuster innovation for some time.

The company faced strong investor opposition to plans to acquire the GSK healthcare business, and analysts pointed to mixed records of several other major acquisitions. Critics say London-based companies will pay a lot for the GSK business, and it should focus on turning existing categories around, rather than undertaking new ones that it has little experience with. I said that.

Trian’s shares in Unilever were previously reported by the Financial Times.

Unilever CEO Alan Jope launched an effort late last year to acquire the consumer health business, which GSK said is preparing for a spin-off. Unilever said the deal is part of an effort to further promote health, beauty and hygiene products at the expense of slow-growing food brands. Bidding and pivoting to health have become Unilever’s biggest strategic shift in years. At that time, it was said that a large-scale acquisition was likely to be accompanied by a major sale.

However, efforts diminished amid fierce opposition from Unilever shareholders, and GSK sought better prices. Jope said last week that he wouldn’t file Unilever’s final offer and would essentially put the deal on the ice. Unilever said it is working to improve the performance of existing brands through future restructuring and rotation of the portfolio to high-growth categories.

Some analysts and investors say Jope’s credibility was hit by the episode.

Trian’s shares will be years after the New York company was acquired by Unilever’s rivals.

Procter & Gamble Ltd

Mr. Peltz in 2017 Won a few P & G board seatsAt that time, it was the most expensive proxy war in American history.

Mr. Peltz previously served on the board of other consumer goods companies, including Oreomakers.

Mondelli’s International Ltd

And Heinz. In some past activist campaigns, he tried to dissolve the company, but that was not the goal of his P & G involvement.

Analysts and investors are asking Unilever to start its own sales growth in a manner similar to P & G’s turnaround, such as selling slow-growing brands and turning core businesses around.

At the time P & G was involved, P & G suffered from fierce competition, rising material costs, and its own bureaucracy. Based in Cincinnati, the company has since been successful in upgrading consumers to premium versions of its products. It also led the industry in eliminating mass market beauty brands and raising prices to offset product costs and increase profit margins.

Recently, P & G has benefited from a significant increase in sales from a pandemic. Including higher price.. Mr. Peltz left P & G’s board at the end of last year.

Write in Cara Lombardo cara.lombardo@wsj.com, Saabira Chaudhuri at saabira.chaudhuri@wsj.com And Costas Paris costas.paris@wsj.com

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Activist investor Nelson Peltz buys shares in Unilever

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