Activist Attack Puts Focus on Procter & Gamble Cost Cutting

By Sharon Terlep Features Dow Jones Newswires

Over the years when Procter & Gamble Co. wasn't able to sell more Tide or Pampers, the company could at least point to one clear success: a sweeping, $10 billion cost-cutting plan executed ahead of schedule.

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Now that victory is murky.

Activist investor Nelson Peltz on Monday said he would seek a single board seat in a shareholder vote at the company's annual meeting, making P&G the largest company to ever face a proxy fight.

Mr. Peltz's Trian Management Fund argues that P&G failed to capitalize on a five-year savings plan that shrunk the company by tens of thousands of employees, more than a dozen factories and hundreds of brands. Trian casts doubt on whether a second, five-year, $10-billion savings plan announced by P&G last year will produce results.

On Monday, P&G began mounting its defense, first pointing to a series of metrics outlining the company's improved profit margin, leaner structure and healthy cash generation.

"Over the past two years, P&G has accomplished the most significant portfolio transformation in its history," the company said. "Today, P&G is a leaner, more agile, more accountable and more efficient organization."

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The company also criticized Trian, arguing the hedge fund "has not provided any new or actionable ideas to drive additional value for P&G shareholders beyond the continued successful execution of the strategic plan that is in place."

Write to Sharon Terlep at sharon.terlep@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 17, 2017 13:26 ET (17:26 GMT)