NEW YORK – Nelson Peltz gained a powerful backer Monday after the proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services said that change may be warranted at DuPont and recommended shareholders give the billionaire investor seats on its board.
Peltz's Trian Fund Management is pushing DuPont to split into two companies and it has nominated four directors for company the board.
ISS on Monday said that shareholders should support Peltz and one of his nominees, John Myers, the former CEO of General Electric Co.'s asset management business. It said that some of Trian's criticisms of DuPont have merit.
The company's operating efficiency could be better and the board and management are not communicating well with shareholders, according to ISS. That has left questions unanswered as to whether breaking up the company would be advantageous.
"The dissidents have made a compelling case that change is warranted," ISS wrote.
Trian Fund Management owns a 2.7-percent stake in the Dover, Delaware, company. It wants DuPont to put its agriculture, nutrition and health and industrial biosciences units into one higher-growth company, separate from DuPont's more cyclical businesses. However Trian has said it is keeping an open mind and will work with DuPont's board to determine if a separation is a good idea.
DuPont added two new independent directors to its board in February, but Trian said it would continue its proxy fight.
ISS recommended that shareholders vote for eight of DuPont's 12 nominees, including the two new directors. It did not take a position on the company's remaining nominees or the other two nominees proposed by Trian.
DuPont will hold its annual shareholder meeting on May 13. The company's shares rose $3.07, or 4.3 percent, to $74.59 in morning trading.