Campbell Soup Co. plans to sell its international and fresh refrigerated foods units and may even put the whole company up for sale, according to news reports.
The two businesses currently bring in about $2.1 billion in annual sales, about a quarter of Campbell’s overall revenue, under brands including Bolthouse Farms, Arnott’s and Kelsen.
According to Reuters and Globe and Mail news reports, it's not clear if the plan will appease activist investor Dan Loeb, whose Third Point LLC hedge fund announced a 5.65 percent stake on Aug. 9 and immediately pressed for a sale of the entire company to a competitor as “the only justifiable outcome.”
The planned sales are a change from the strategy of former Chief Executive Denise Morrison, who wanted Campbell to sell a range of healthy foods from “soup to nuts.”
Morrison stepped down in May after a string of poor results. On the same day, the company announced a sweeping review of its portfolio and board member Keith McLoughlin was named interim CEO.
Campbell’s share price has fallen by a third over the past two years as young consumers turn away from its soups and Pepperidge Farm cookies, notes the Globe and Mail story.
With a market value of about $12-billion, it is the latest household name in U.S. business to receive the attention of activist investors, following Procter & Gamble Co, Xerox Corp and others.