February 12, 2018 / 1:51 PM / in a year

Starboard nominates candidates to replace Newell's board

(Reuters) - Activist shareholder Starboard Value LP on Monday nominated a full slate of candidates to Newell Brands Inc’s NWL.N board, including two directors who resigned from the Sharpie pen maker’s board last month.

Starboard, which owns about 4 percent of Newell, expressed concerns about the company’s underperformance and said in a letter to Chief Executive Michael Polk that the company’s management had made missteps in integrating and operating Jarden after it bought the consumer products maker in 2016.

Newell last month announced plans to pare down to its core by jettisoning 10 business lines, many of which it acquired through the Jarden acquisition including Rawlings, Goody, Rubbermaid Outdoor, and U.S. Playing Cards.

Newell’s shares were down 0.9 percent in late afternoon trading on Monday. The stock has sunk nearly 37 percent since the Jarden acquisition.

The slate nominated by Starboard includes Jarden co-founders Martin Franklin and Ian Ashken. They were part of Newell’s board and resigned in January.

James Lillie, former Jarden CEO, is also part of Starboard’s slate.

“We find it extremely disappointing that Newell’s current directors not only own very few shares of the company but have lacked the confidence to buy shares in the company following its recent precipitous decline,” Starboard said in the letter.

Newell declined to comment on Starboard’s letter. On Friday, Newell said its board was committed to continuously reviewing its capabilities and ongoing refreshment on behalf of shareholders, and said the board already “has a process in place for regularly evaluating prospective directors.”

Newell also pointed to its gain in market share and competitive core sales growth in a challenging retail environment.

The company said it has already wrung out more than $550 million in cost synergies and savings and reduced its debt by $3.4 billion since April 16, 2016 while returning more than $900 million to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends.

Reporting by Nivedita Balu and Vibhuti Sharma in Bengaluru and Harry Brumpton in New York; Editing by Sayantani Ghosh and Steve Orlofsky

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