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Bluebell presses Danone

Acquisition of a stake in the French company revealed

Danone reassures: "the team is focused on delivering sustainable long-term value to our shareholders"

Danone has announced that it is focused on delivering shareholder value after a report revealed that Bluebell Capital Partners has bought a stake in the French company and is pushing for governance changes. A report by French business magazine Challenges has revealed that Bluebell bought shares in Danone at the end of last year and has since sent a letter to management calling for a review of the company’s governance and strategy.

 The activist fund based in London, led by the Italian Giuseppe Bivona and also participated by the former CEO of Bulgari, Francesco Trapani, has asked for the chairman and CEO roles to be split and has called on current chairman and CEO Emmanuel Faber to step down. Danone did not comment about Faber’s position. In an emailed statement to FoodBev in response to Challenges’ report, a Danone spokesperson said: “We value constructive dialogue with all our shareholders. The leadership team of Danone is highly focused on delivering long-term sustainable value for our shareholders”. In order to deliver more profitable results, Danone announced a major reorganisation of the business and up to 2,000 staff cuts back in November. The company revealed plans to group its three businesses (dairy and vegetable products, specialised nutrition and water) by geographical area. The owner of Evian and Volvic had been witnessing declining sales in its waters unit, as it suffered during lockdown. I.n a letter to the board, reported by the Financial Times, the fund asked for the ouster of the CEO, the appointment of a new head of the company and the separation of the role of president.

“The first stage of this plan includes an ambitious adaptation plan to return Danone to profitable growth in less than 12 months, as soon as H2 2021 and for our recurring operating margin to return to its pre-Covid levels at more than 15% by 2022”, said Danone in an emailed statement. “On December 14th we also announced plans to reinforce our governance by creating a new Strategy and Transformation Committee to assist in overseeing the evolving strategic plan for the company”. 

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