Heinz announced that the results for a shareholder vote for its board of directors would not be known for weeks.
The Pittsburg-food based company has hired an independent firm to count the proxy ballots. During the meeting on Wednesday, the focus was on the proxy battle between the firm and the Trian Group owned by activist shareholder Nelson Peltz. Currently Trian owns 5.5 percent of the firm and was seeking 5 seats in the 12 seat board of directors.
â€œAs we await the final voting results, Heinz wishes to thank the many shareholders who expressed support for our Board,â€ said William R. Johnson, Heinz Chairman, President and CEO. â€œI want to reassure shareholders that Heinz remains intensely focused on implementing our plan to enhance shareholder value and drive our accelerating business momentum.â€
Peltz had called on the firm to achieve a cost saving of $575 million, which the firm labelled a vague and unrealistic. Peltz also had chided the firm for selling off assets in the popular weight loss market. He said the sale of Weight Watchers was big.
â€œThe Board will hold management accountable and shareholders can hold us accountable, Presiding Director Thomas J. Usher said. â€œWe have an obligation to our shareholders to deliver the best opportunity for strong value appreciation, with the least risk.â€
The firm defended itself against criticism that it was not doing enough for shareholders by pointing to its financial results. The companyâ€™s total shareholder return had outperformed the S&P Food Group by 19 percent to 16 percent over the past three years from 2002 to 2006. The food company had returned $4.2 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases since itsâ€™ Del Monte foods spin-off.