TreeHouse Foods settles with Jana, appoints two to its board

March 2, 2021 6:27 PM EST

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(Reuters) - Private label food group TreeHouse Foods on Tuesday appointed two new independent directors to its board, three weeks after activist investment firm Jana Partners urged the company to consider selling itself.

TreeHouse said it shares a "common perspective" with Jana, which has said the stock remains undervalued nearly three years into a turnaround. The company said its current share price does not reflect the progress it has made.

Jana, which owns 7.4% of TreeHouse's shares and has a history of pushing for change in the food and beverage industry, in late January nominated three directors to the TreeHouse board.

John Gainor, who was nominated by Jana, brings food industry experience and was most recently the CEO of International Dairy Queen. Kenneth Tuchman has decades of experience as an investment banker having worked at Bank of Montreal Capital Markets and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

"I look forward to working with John, Ken and the rest of the board to focus on accelerating our momentum and achieving a stock price that reflects the true value of our business," TreeHouse CEO Steve Oakland said in a statement.

TreeHouse, which makes private label food and beverages across North America and Italy for retail grocery, food service and industrial customers, is valued at $2.8 billion.

Its share price has climbed 18% since January and closed trading at $49.34 on Tuesday, but is still well below prices over $100 in mid-2016.

Jana previously pushed for change at Pinnacle Foods which was sold to Conagra and at Whole Foods which was sold to Amazon.

After settling, Barry Rosenstein, Jana's managing partner, said in a statement; "We are encouraged by the steps the Company has been taking, including these director additions, and by the ongoing commitment to unlocking stockholder value."

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss, Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Richard Pullin)

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