Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Activist Will Help Shape Ralcorp; Newcomer to Board Has Made It Clear That He'll Push for Changes to Improve Stockholder Value, Including a Sale or a Merger

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Activist Will Help Shape Ralcorp; Newcomer to Board Has Made It Clear That He'll Push for Changes to Improve Stockholder Value, Including a Sale or a Merger

Article excerpt

Food manufacturer Ralcorp Holdings' fate as a stand-alone company rests, in part, with Keith Meister, an activist investor who is a newcomer to the company's board of directors.

Meister, 39, is managing partner of New York-based hedge fund Corvex Management LP and a former lieutenant of billionaire investor Carl Icahn.

Meister was appointed to St. Louis-based Ralcorp's board on Wednesday, following Corvex's disclosure in August that it owns more than 5 percent of St. Louis-based Ralcorp's outstanding shares.

In recent weeks, Corvex has made it clear that it will push for changes at Ralcorp, which makes dozens of private label, or store brand, cereal, pasta, bread, cookies and other foods.

Corvex said in August it was seeking to discuss "potential value- enhancing actions" with Ralcorp executives to improve stockholder value, according to a regulatory filing. Corvex suggested Ralcorp should pursue putting itself up for sale, merging with a competitor or adding new investors to its board.

His addition to the board means Ralcorp is willing to entertain all possibilities, from making acquisitions to opening itself up for a takeover, said Scott Harrison, a senior analyst with Argent Capital Management in Clayton.

"It keeps all options open," Harrison said. "It shows Ralcorp is taking a proactive approach to listening to shareholders. From a shareholders' standpoint, it builds confidence that we're all on the same page."

The appointment comes as investors fret over the direction of Ralcorp.

Some shareholders were upset with Ralcorp for fending off takeover attempts last year from ConAgra Foods, based in Omaha, Neb. In a bid to beef up its private label offerings, ConAgra offered to buy Ralcorp for $5.2 billion, which was rejected by the company. Instead, Ralcorp spun off its branded food business, Post Holdings, as a separate stand-alone business in February. …

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