By Sruthi Ramakrishnan
(Reuters) - Procter & Gamble Co <PG.N> is still reviewing a tally of shareholder votes cast at its annual meeting more than a month ago, after a fierce proxy contest narrowly handed activist investor Nelson Peltz a board seat.
The consumer products company said on Wednesday it has not yet decided to launch a formal challenge to the results, which are still preliminary, but is reviewing a count performed by IVS Associates Inc to make sure it is accurate. In response, Peltz’s firm, Trian Fund Management, said it was disappointed that P&G continues to question the outcome, which handed him a victory with a margin of just 0.0016 percent of shares outstanding.
“Regardless of how they voted, P&G shareholders should be concerned that P&G has opted to waste further time and shareholder money contesting the official tabulation of the independent Inspector,” Trian said in a statement. Trian asked P&G to reconsider its decision to review and immediately give Peltz a seat on the company's board.
Peltz launched his war against P&G management in July, criticizing the company’s lagging stock price and railing against its “suffocating bureaucracy.” From then through Tuesday’s close, P&G shares have risen 1.9 percent.
Immediately after its annual meeting in mid-October, P&G said it had beat Peltz by a slim margin, but IVS’s tally, released a week ago, showed otherwise.
P&G, whose brands include Tide laundry detergent, Crest toothpaste and Pampers disposable diapers, said it was pushing to get a final certified report from the Independent Inspector of Elections as quickly as possible.
Typically during such reviews, lawyers from both sides vet the counting process performed by an independent third-party. If the outcome does not go its way, P&G can launch a formal challenge, though it did not say whether it plans to do so.
(Additional reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Writing by Lauren Tara LaCapra; Editing by Bernard Orr and David Gregorio)