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Trian backs off call to split DuPont in two

[NEW YORK] Activist investor Trian on Wednesday backed off a demand to split DuPont in two, but amplified its call to elect new directors to shake up the chemical giant.

Trian Fund Management previously called for DuPont to divide into a "growth co" focused on agriculture and industrial biosciences and a "cyclical/cash co." encompassing performance materials, electronics and communications.

On Wednesday, Trian said it was "open-minded" on DuPont's corporate structure, but said that election to the board of Trian chief Nelson Peltz and three other nominees was still needed to address the company's underperformance.

"Trian does not see this election as a referendum on separating the businesses, but rather a referendum on DuPont's financial performance," Mr Peltz said in a letter to other DuPont shareholders.

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"If elected to the Board, the Trian nominees will seek to work collaboratively with the other Board members to determine whether value can be optimized in the current structure or through a separation."

In response, DuPont said its prior review of Trian's proposal to split the company concluded that such a move is "costly and high risk and would not serve the interests of shareholders."

DuPont said it would consider Trian's latest white paper, but it criticized Peltz for rejecting a prior compromise to consider a Trian nominee in exchange for dropping the proxy campaign. Trian holds about a three percent stake in DuPont.

"Our Board and management team have attempted to engage constructively with Trian, including more than 20 conversations with the Trian team, involving our senior management or our lead independent director," the company said.

"We recently reached out to Mr Peltz in an effort to reach a resolution and avoid a costly and distracting proxy fight. He refused, however, to even consider any path forward that did not involve Nelson Peltz himself being added personally to the DuPont Board."

Wednesday's sparring is the latest war of words between the company since Mr Peltz announced the proxy campaign in January.

Dow member DuPont closed down 0.3 per cent at US$75.25.