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Barbarians in the Boardroom by Owen Walker

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6

DuPont’s Pyrrhic victory

Chemical reaction

Ellen Kullman stared at the television screen. It was the type of interview chief executives hope they will never have to watch. Andrew Ross Sorkin, anchor on business news channel CNBC, was talking to Nelson Peltz, CEO of Trian Fund Management and one of the most successful and feared activist investors. Sorkin began by asking Peltz to confirm information CNBC had received that Trian had been amassing a stake in DuPont, America’s biggest chemical company, which Kullman ran. Peltz would not comment on the speculation. But by refusing to deny it, the implication was clear: life was about to get very complicated for Kullman, as chair and CEO, and her fellow DuPont directors.

It was mid-July 2013 and ...

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