Childhood & Early Life
Nelson Peltz was born on June 24, 1942, in Brooklyn, New York, in a wealthy business family, to Claire and Maurice Peltz. His father worked for ‘A. Peltz & Sons,’ a company founded by Nelson’s grandfather, Adolph Peltz.
In the initial years of his life, Nelson remained a rebel and never showed any interest in joining the family business. In 1963, he dropped out of the ‘Wharton School’ of the ‘University of Pennsylvania,’ in order to focus on his dream of becoming a ski instructor. He moved to Oregon to fulfil his dreams of learning skiing. However, he soon came back and joined the family business as a driver. He worked for less than 100 dollars per week initially.
The company managed the transportation of food products to various restaurants and hotels in New York City. He worked in the company with his elder brother Robert. Claire Peltz soon handed over the charge of the company to the boys, and over the next few years, the company received a solid boost in gross profits.
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A few years after taking the charge of the company, the brothers shifted the core focus of the firm from fresh produce to institutionalized frozen-food products. Owing to this, the company grew rapidly, and in the 70s, the brothers took control of several smaller food companies in New York City. In the course of a decade, the company went from being a 2.5-million-dollar private company to a public company with an annual revenue of 150 million dollars.
In 1972, the brothers started a new food company, ‘Flagstaff Corp,’ and ten years later, after the company went bankrupt, Robert purchased back the assets of ‘Peltz Food’ from Flagstaff.’ This marked the end of the brothers’ partnership.
In the mid-80s, Nelson found a business acquaintance in Peter May, who worked as the chief financial officer with ‘Flagstaff’ and went in search of new acquisitions. In April 1983, stakes were bought by them in ‘Triangle Industries Inc.,’ a major wire and vending-machine company. Within a few years, the business expertise of Peter and Nelson made the company feature on the ‘Fortune 100’ list and transformed it into one of the top packaging companies in the world.
‘Triangle’ was more of a target practice for ‘Nelson’ and it was sold to a French company, ‘Pechiney.’ Nelson continued acquiring more companies such as ‘American Can’ and ‘National Can.’ His success throughout the 80s paved way for greater victories in the future, and by the arrival of the 90s, things improved furthermore.
In the mid-90s, Nelson used an investment vehicle ‘Triarc Cos’ to acquire ‘Snapple,’ from ‘Quaker Oats.’ Without any intention of keeping it around for a long time, Nelson and May started putting it out there, and in 2000, three years after acquiring ‘Snapple,’ they sold it to ‘Cadbury Schweppes.’ This major turnaround performed by Nelson and May featured as a case study at the prestigious ‘Harvard Business School.’
In 2005, May and Nelson started the activist investing company ‘Trian Fund Management’ along with a new partner, Ed Garden. The company successfully invested in some big companies such as ‘Cadbury,’ ‘Heinz,’ ‘Kraft Foods,’ ‘Family Dollar,’ and ‘Wendy’s.’
In 2007, ‘Trian’ bought some shares in ‘Cadbury Schweppes’ and ‘Kraft Foods,’ and in April 2008, Nelson merged ‘Triarc Corp’ with the globally famous burger chain ‘Wendy’s.’ The new company thus formed was named ‘Wendy’s Arby’s Group’ and its shares were traded on the ‘New York Stock Exchange.’ ‘Arby’s’ was later sold by the ‘Wendy’s Arby’s Group’ and was renamed as ‘The Wendy’s Company.’
In 2011, ‘Trian’ had a total of 8% stake in ‘Family Dollar’ and expressed its desire to participate in the private LBO of the company, but the management and board of directors of ‘Family Dollar’ rejected the offer. One of the founders of ‘Trian,’ Ed Garden then attained a place in the board of directors of ‘Family Dollar.’
In 2012, Peltz was appointed as a member of the board of directors for the company ‘Ingersoll Rand,’ and in 2013, he announced that he had about 1.25 billion worth of stakes in ‘DuPont.’ In 2014, after the public announcement that he had acquired more than 46 million shares in the company ‘Mondelez International,’ he was made a member of its board of directors.
In 2014, acting as a beneficial owner of ‘PepsiCo, Inc.,’ he wrote a letter to their board of directors stating that the company shall not be selling snacks and beverages under the same name. He further said that having independent companies for both operations would benefit the company and its shareholders in the long run.
In 2015, he failed to place four of his nominees on the board of directors of ‘DuPont,’ and shockingly, a few months later, the CEO of the company resigned. Later that year, Nelson bought a 2.5-million stake in ‘General Electric.’
Trian had a 1.5% stake in ‘Procter & Gamble.’ Thus, Peltz made an unsuccessful attempt to become one of the members of its board of directors in October 2017. However, it was later revealed that Nelson had won the proxy race for a seat on the board. In December 2017, he was finally named as one of the board members.
In 2014, Nelson earned a place for himself on the ‘Forbes’ list of the 25 highest-earning hedge-fund managers. With an annual earning of 430 million dollars, Nelson was placed at the 16th spot.
He was also named as one of the most influential people in corporate governance all over the world thrice, in a list formulated by the ‘National Association of Corporate Directors’ in 2010, 2011, and 2012.