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Loeb’s Third Point urges Nestle to split into three units: letter

BOSTON (Reuters) – Billionaire investor Daniel Loeb on Sunday raised the pressure on food group Nestle (NESN.S), urging it to split into three divisions and telling its board to be “sharper,” “bolder,” and “faster” in overhauling the company.

FILE PHOTO: Hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb speaks during a Reuters Newsmaker event in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 21, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

Loeb, whose $18 billion hedge fund Third Point has invested more than $3 billion in Nestle, said in a letter to the board that the company needed to act more quickly on an overhaul and suggested it should be divided into beverage, nutrition and grocery units.

Such a move would help “simplify (Nestle’s) overly complex organizational structure,” according to the letter, which was seen by Reuters on Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: A Nestle logo is pictured on a coffee factory in Orbe, Switzerland May 31, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

“This is a call for urgency – rather than incrementalism,” Loeb wrote.

The Financial Times first reported on Loeb’s letter.

Loeb, who has been watching Nestle from afar for roughly a year and has periodically praised the company’s relatively new chief executive’s moves, appears to be running out of patience.

The fund manager criticized the slow pace of Nestle’s sales growth, the decline in its stock price and the fact that it had not sold more pieces that did not fit into its “nutrition health and wellness” strategy.

Third Point published a 34-page long presentation that says the company is not living up to its potential.

“Nestle’s insular, complacent, and bureaucratic organization is overly complex, lethargic, and misses too many trends,” Loeb said in the letter.

Nestle hired Mark Schneider, a German, as chief executive officer in early 2017. Schneider became the company’s first non-Swiss CEO in nearly a century.

Over the years, Loeb has repeatedly taken on revered corporations, including Yahoo, Sony and Dow Chemical and Sotheby’s, urging them to perform better and finding new chief executives for some of them.

Loeb doesn’t shy away from making specific recommendations and has consistently urged Nestle to sell businesses that do not fit its strategy, including its stake in cosmetics firm L’Oreal.

Nestle had no immediate comment.

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss with additional reporting from Rama Venkat Raman; Editing by Paul Simao

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