Nestlé, the $265 billion Kit Kat maker’s 14 directors of the board lack both consumer and digital expertise. Half the directors come from Switzerland which is also the company’s headquarters and account for only 2 percent of the company’s sales. With Nestlé’s newest renovation plans seeming conservative the Third Point founder has ability to request changes to the board. By doing this Nestlé could start the battle by putting a stop to Dan Loeb’s next move.
Nestlé hasn’t made any significant changes to the board until lately. In January 2017, Chief Executive Mark Schneider was Nestlé’s first externally hired boss for nearly 100 years. Also, former Xerox and Credit Suisse executives have been appointed to the board over the past few years. Since the merger of Nestlé and the Anglo-Swiss Milk Company in 1905, Paul Bulcke, Schneider’s predecessor, is the 10th former CEO acting as chairman. Schneider’s goal for growth depends on revamping Nestlé’s food business and advancing web sales. Yet, outside expertise in the consumer and online areas is remarkably lacking on the current board.
In June, Loeb exposed his $3.5 billion stake in Nestlé but hasn’t gone public with his noted aggressiveness. Loeb retained an adviser who easily may become a credible board nominee, Jan Bennink. An investor that controls a 0.15 percent stake in Nestlé can request an item for its annual meeting. Given the next meeting is scheduled for April 12, 2018, Loeb must inform the board by late February abiding by providing 45 days’ notice.
With the board in need of advanced skills, Nestlé can do something for its own benefit by being a step ahead of Loeb.