Corteva chairman defends CEO after activist shareholder calls for ouster

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The chairman of Corteva, Inc. confirmed discussions with activist shareholder Starboard Value while expressing confidence in CEO James Collins

Starboard announced it will launch a battle for control of the board of the company based near Wilmington. If successful, the Starboard board slate would oust Collins, a former DuPont executive.

Corteva was part of the merger-spinoff of Dow and DuPont and includes agriscience operations of the two companies.

Jim Collins, at the time executive vice president, DuPont, tours the new OLED materials scale-up facility at Stine-Haskell with Avi Avula, global business director, DuPont Displays.

Greg Page, independent chairman of Corteva, said, “Corteva’s Board and management value the input of all our shareholders and we have met several times with Starboard. We understand their views, are in agreement on many points, and we look forward to continuing our dialogue. However, thus far, Starboard has not discussed with us specific operational recommendations for how to improve performance and the Board is unanimous in its view that Jim Collins’ proven track record and industry expertise make him exactly the right leader to assure the Company delivers on its potential during this critical period.”

“Leveraging our attractive assets and strong strategic positioning, Corteva has made significant progress in a short period of time as an independent company. We recognize that we have more work to do, and we intend to deliver on our commitments,” Page continued. “Looking ahead, we believe we are at an important inflection point in our Company’s trajectory as the extensive investments we have made to enhance productivity over the last 18+ months will begin to accelerate their impact on earnings. We believe we are just beginning to realize the value creation opportunity we have been targeting.”

Collins said, “Corteva has delivered total shareholder returns of approximately 80%1 since the spinoff and we believe we are well-positioned to accelerate the realization of our value creation opportunity in 2021 and beyond. With an industry-leading pipeline and an unmatched global multi-channel, multi-brand distribution system, which allows us to give our customers what they need, when they need it, we are confident in our ability to continue to capitalize on our advantages to deliver above-market growth. At the same time, we are laser-focused on continuing to reduce costs and enhance productivity through both in-flight and new initiatives. Together with our top-line growth opportunities enabled by our new product portfolio, we are confident that these initiatives will drive meaningful margin expansion in the near-term and significant value for shareholders.”

The company went on to defend its strategy, citing gains in sales and EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation.

Corteva’s stock performance has lagged the overall stock market, but has shown gains in the past year.

The Company’s 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders has not yet been scheduled, and Corteva shareholders are not required to take any action at this time.

The Board’s Nomination and Governance Committee will review Starboard’s proposed candidates in accordance with its corporate governance principles, a release stated.

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