Cara Lombardo, Saabira Chaudhuri, Costas Paris
LONDON — Trian Fund Management LP, the activist hedge fund run by Nelson Peltz, has acquired a stake in Unilever PLC, according to people familiar with the matter, adding pressure to the packaged food and consumer goods giant in the wake of its failed $68-billion bid for GlaxoSmithKline PLC’s consumer-health business.
The size of the stake couldn’t be learned. Trian started buying Unilever shares well before its bids for the GSK unit surfaced earlier this month, one of the people said.
Unilever’s shares /zigman2/quotes/204685760/composite UL -1.88% /zigman2/quotes/205449809/delayed UK:ULVR -1.36% have been under pressure in recent months as it has struggled to boost volumes. Analysts say it has underperformed some rivals during the COVID-19 pandemic in areas such as hygiene and packaged food and hasn’t launched any blockbuster innovations in some time.
The company faced strong opposition from investors to its plan to buy the GSK /zigman2/quotes/209463850/composite GSK -0.07% health care business, with analysts pointing to its mixed record on several other big acquisitions. Critics said the London-based company would be overpaying for the GSK business, and that it should focus on turning around its existing categories rather than taking on new ones in which it had little experience.
Trian’s stake in Unilever was earlier reported by the Financial Times.
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