The descendants of Campbell Soup Co.'s founder are standing by the company's directors, dealing a blow to activist investor Dan Loeb's efforts to oust the entire board.
Relatives of John Dorrance who together hold about 41 percent of the Camden company's shares will vote for its current board at its annual meeting on Nov. 29, according to a statement Wednesday.
Those holders include siblings Bennett Dorrance and Mary Alice Dorrance Malone, grandchildren of John Dorrance who have sat on the company's board for nearly 30 years. Another board member, Archbold van Beuren, was also included in the announcement. A fourth, Charlotte C. Weber, retired from the board four years ago.
The block of shares they and other kin hold creates a hurdle for Loeb, whose Third Point LLC launched a proxy fight in September to replace Campbell's entire 12-person board. He's nominating an entirely new slate.
Campbell's voting rules dictate that whichever slate receives the most shareholder votes will win all 12 seats. The Dorrance slate would only need the support of slightly more than 9 percent of remaining shareholders, if every shareholder casts a ballot next month. If some shareholders don't vote, which is common, the Dorrance family would need fewer extra votes.
"Our management team and directors have been and will continue to meet with investors to convey the strength of our plan to maximize shareholder value," Campbell's said in a statement.
A representative for Third Point wasn't immediately available for comment.
Loeb has partnered with another one of John Dorrance's grandchildren, George Strawbridge, to replace the board. Together they hold about 8.4 percent of Campbell's stock.
The activist investor has criticized the company's performance and the outcome of its recent strategic review, which fell short of his demands for a sale of the company. Campbell instead said it planned to sell its international and fresh food businesses.