IFF adds Icahn-recommended member to board


Dive Brief:

  • International Flavors & Fragrances added Barry Bruno to its board of directors on Wednesday as part of an agreement with investor Icahn Capital. Carl Icahn, who reportedly owns a 4% stake in the ingredients giant, recommended Bruno be added to the board, according to a statement from IFF.
  • With Bruno’s addition, IFF now has a 14-member board of directors. Bruno is executive vice president and chief marketing officer for CPG company Church & Dwight.
  • IFF has seen quite a lot of changes in its leadership since merging last year with the former DuPont Nutrition and Biosciences. Frank Clyburn, recently of Merck, takes over as CEO next week, and outgoing CEO Andreas Fibig said on Friday’s earnings call that eight of the 14 board members are new to the company.

Dive Insight:

As news of IFF’s agreement with Icahn and the appointment with Bruno filtered out, the company’s stock price jumped 11.6% Thursday morning from its recent low of $125.48 per share last Friday. According to The Wall Street Journal, Icahn’s investment is a friendly one, made more out of respect for DuPont CEO Edward Breen — who is also a member of IFF’s board — than a demand for different business practices. 

Icahn isn’t the only outside investor to have taken an interest in IFF since the merger. Last February, Reuters reported activist investor Sachem Head Capital bought about a $1 billion stake in the company. In turn, IFF offered the fund’s managing partner Scott Ferguson a seat on its board, but he did not take it. The Wall Street Journal also reported this week that an entity connected with Brazilian private equity firm 3G Capital has an investment in IFF, but there was no further information.

IFF, which also reported its quarterly earnings on Wednesday evening, is coming off of a strong year. In the most recent quarter, the company’s sales were up 9% over a year ago — making calculation adjustments to allow for the DuPont acquisition.

And the company has big plans. On Friday morning’s earnings call, CFO Glenn Richter highlighted initiatives to streamline and improve IFF’s current business. The company has targeted three or four non-core business entities to sell within the next 18 months, he said. Richter expects these divestitures could bring in $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion. This strategy is keeping in line with IFF’s $1.3 billion sale of the microbial control business that came with the DuPont merger. On the call, Richter said that transaction is expected to close soon.

The ingredients company also plans significant investments to increase manufacturing capacity and enhance supply chain efficiency, Richter said. At the time of the merger, IFF had extensive plans to determine how to take advantage of new synergies. Because of supply chain issues in the past year, these efforts fell behind schedule, but the company plans to make up for it. In IFF’s 2022 guidance, the company is targeting $200 million in cost reductions from synergies, enhancements and reformulations, logistics efficiencies and other operational improvements. While inflationary pressures are destined to eat into IFF’s sales and profits in the next year, Richter said the company is targeting $100 million in net efficiencies.

With so many fresh hands on the operating levers of IFF, as well as so many big changes in the company and the world economy in the near term, the ingredients giant is not as bogged down by former decisions and practices as many other businesses of its size. In its next quarterly report, with a new CEO and mostly new board of directors behind its decisions, IFF’s future path will start to become much clearer.

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