ConAgra names activist investor nominees to board

Reuters — ConAgra Foods said it would add two directors, including a former Nestle executive nominated by Jana Partners, three weeks after the activist investor took a stake in the food processing company and called for changes.

ConAgra will appoint former Nestle USA CEO Bradley Alford and former Walgreens Boots Alliance CFO Timothy McLevish to its board by July 22.

Jana revealed a 7.2 per cent stake in the food processing company in June and sought changes to address “persistent underperformance” since the US$5 billion acquisition of U.S. private label company Ralcorp in 2013.

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Giving in to pressure from its second-largest shareholder, ConAgra said last week it planned to exit its private label business to focus on the faster-growing consumer foods segment.

CEO Sean Connolly had accepted that the inconsistency in performance was “totally unacceptable” and hinted at divestitures.

ConAgra, like other processed food companies, has been facing weakening demand and has been forced to cut costs as consumers shift to foods that are perceived as healthier, such as organic products.

Apart from Alford, Jana had nominated its founder Barry Rosenstein and Diane Dietz, who used to oversee supermarket chain Safeway’s private-label business.

Reporting for Reuters by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bangalore.

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