- Jacob BungeThe Wall Street JournalCANCEL
- Angela ChenThe Wall Street JournalCANCEL
Updated Jan. 12, 2015 2:43 p.m. ET
agreed to sell its namesake theater as the chemical company faces a high-profile proxy fight with an activist investor that has criticized its hospitality businesses as examples of corporate bloat.
The Grand Opera House Inc., an entertainment group based in Wilmington, Del., plans to acquire the 101-year-old DuPont Theatre from the company, in a deal that DuPont Chief Executive Ellen Kullman called “a strategic and mutually beneficial business decision.”
Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
The deal comes after
’s Trian Fund Management LP in September launched a public campaign to split up DuPont’s businesses and free them from what Trian called a cumbersome and costly corporate structure. The fund spotlighted the theater, as well as an attached 12-story hotel and nearby country club also owned by DuPont, as examples of what the fund claimed were $2 billion to $4 billion in unnecessary annual expenses.
Last week, Trian nominated four director candidates to DuPont’s board, including Mr. Peltz, the fund’s CEO, to be put before a shareholder vote likely in April.
DuPont, defending its governance and business strategy, has touted its stock market-beating performance under
along with shareholder-friendly moves like a $5 billion stock buyback and a plan to cut $1 billion in annual costs.
The Wilmington, Del., company has said the hospitality businesses posed no significant burden on DuPont. A spokesman said Monday that the company remains open to selling its country club and hotel “if appropriate value can be received for shareholders.”
A spokeswoman for Trian declined to comment.
- How DuPont Got Into the Hospitality Business (Sept. 22)
- Nelson Peltz Launches Proxy Fight Against DuPont (Jan. 8)
- DuPont Fight About More Than Just Returns (Jan. 9)
The DuPont Theatre opened in October 1913, shortly after the opening of the attached Hotel du Pont, with ticket prices starting at 25 cents. Then-company President Pierre S. du Pont commissioned both operations at a time when DuPont’s expansion was fueling a growing population in Wilmington, where the company began as a gunpowder mill in 1802.
The Grand, which operates the 144-year-old Grand Opera House in Wilmington, plans to rename the DuPont Theatre as The Playhouse on Rodney Square, according to a statement from the companies.
DuPont shares were 1.8% higher in afternoon trading Monday, at $74.80.
—David Benoit contributed to this article.
Write to Jacob Bunge at firstname.lastname@example.org and Angela Chen at email@example.com
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