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Mark Schneider

(bloomberg)

(Bloomberg) -- Nestle SA Chief Executive Officer Mark Schneider threw his support behind Chairman Paul Bulcke after activist investor Dan Loeb charged the board leader with complacency.

Third Point, the activist fund run by Loeb, published a 34-page presentation earlier this month, demanding faster change at the world’s largest food company. He said Bulcke may be holding up the pace and magnitude of change and that the company needs more outsiders in management.

“Let me underscore my strong working relationship with our chairman,” Schneider told analysts in a conference call Thursday. The CEO said the two are in “full agreement” on Nestle’s current direction and are “unanimous in our commitment to analyze all aspects of our strategy.”

Third Point, which invested $3.5 billion in Nestle, has said the Swiss food company should divest underperforming units and sell its stake in French cosmetics maker L’Oreal SA. Nestle shares have dropped about 2 percent since Third Point revealed the stake in June last year.

“As CEO, I have the full authority to undertake this analysis and implement the right actions to meet our objectives,” Schneider said.

While Loeb criticized Bulcke, he has a more favorable opinion of Schneider, Manager Magazin said last week, saying that the activist shareholder occasionally communicates with the CEO by phone and email.

Schneider commented in the webcast for first-half results Thursday, when the company forecast an acceleration in the rest of the year as sales improve in the U.S. and China.

“The year-to-date results show some of our progress,” Schneider said. “We’re pleased but not satisfied. We’re far from done. There’s a lot more to come.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Corinne Gretler in Zurich at cgretler1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Eric Pfanner at epfanner1@bloomberg.net, Thomas Mulier

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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