(Adds Peltz comments on DuPont shareholders)
By Sam Forgione
NEW YORK, July 15 (Reuters) - Nelson Peltz, chief executive of hedge fund Trian Fund Management, said on Wednesday that losing a proxy battle with DuPont Co has proven to be a major blow to shareholders, adding that he was still considering boosting his stake.
In May, DuPont defeated a campaign by Trian to land seats on the chemical company’s board, a landmark setback to one of the most influential activist investor firms.
DuPont shares have lost roughly one-fifth of their value since Trian’s proxy fight defeat in May but Peltz said he would consider buying more shares of the company, formally known as E I du Pont de Nemours and Co.
The shares edged higher on Wednesday and were up 0.2 percent in late morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
“It has been a significant loss for shareholders,” Peltz said at the CNBC Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha Conference in New York. Peltz also said that DuPont lead director Alexander Cutler should not hold that position.
Trian has assets under management of about $11 billion and another $750 million in callable commitments. Trian holds 24.56 million DuPont shares, or a 2.71 percent stake worth about $1.46 billion based on Tuesday’s closing price of $59.43.
DuPont shareholders re-elected all of its sitting directors, rejecting Peltz’s criticisms that the 212-year-old maker of Kevlar fibers and Pioneer corn seeds suffered from a bloated corporate structure and sagging profits.
“My question to you is, that if the election held today, what do you think the results would be?” Peltz asked. He said he questioned whether shareholders who had voted against Trian in the proxy fight would do so again.
Peltz added: “We want management and the board to do a good job. We’d rather be rich than right.”
Bill Ackman, head of $20 billion hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management, said at the conference that Peltz’s biggest mistake in the DuPont proxy battle was that he waited “too long.” (Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Christian Plumb)