Nelson Peltz Renews Push for Pepsi Breakup

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Despite posting better-than-expected fourth-quarter and full-year results recently, along with a dividend hike and a plan for additional share buybacks, PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP) investors are not happy. Shares have fallen to a nine-month low since last week’s report. And one investor in particular, activist investor Nelson Peltz, is making things tougher on the management of the snack and beverage giant.

After backing off so the company could perform a strategic review, Peltz and his Trian Fund Management have renewed their call for a breakup of PepsiCo. Specifically, Trian sent a 37-page letter to PepsiCo’s board of directors Wednesday making the case for why the company should spin off its struggling beverage business.

Trian says it owns roughly $1.2 billion in PepsiCo stock, and its letter said it would begin meeting with shareholders “immediately” to drum up support for the company to split.

PepsiCo said in a response to Trian’s letter that management and the board remain opposed to breaking up the company: “Our focus is on delivering results for our shareholders, not new, costly distractions that will harm shareholder interests.” The company’s “exhaustive” review came down on the side of remaining a single company. CEO Indra Nooyi said when earnings were released, “Decoupling our beverage and snack businesses in North America would significantly reduce our relevance to our customers.”

Like rival Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) PepsiCo has been struggled with declining soda sales in an era of more health-conscious consumers increasingly switching to juices and health drinks. Coca-Cola posted disappointing results and weak guidance this week, and its shares have plunged to near their 52-week low.

Peltz also had pushed for PepsiCo to acquire Mondelez International Inc (NASDAQ: MDLZ) and create a snack food giant, but he dropped that effort after winning a seat on the Mondelez board last month.