U.S. investment firm Artisan Partners has called on French food group Danone to separate its medical nutrition business from its baby foods unit to boost returns, French daily Le Figaro reported on Wednesday.
Artisan Partners, which said it had built up a stake of more than 3% in the Activia yoghurt maker, also said that Danone's Asian Mizone unit could be offloaded.
"Medical nutrition must be separated from baby nutrition, two businesses that have nothing to do with each other," Jan Bennink, an adviser for Artisan Partners, told Le Figaro.
Bennink also said Danone's brands Evian, Badoit and Volvic were key priorities for the company.
Danone came under more pressure last week to make management changes as some shareholders voiced criticism of weak returns at the food group and demanded it split the roles of chief executive and chairman.
At the start of February, Emmanuel Faber, Danone's chief executive, told the weekly Journal du Dimanche that he did not hold a "dogmatic" view as to whether the role should be split in two.
"The separation of the roles of chairman and chief executive has been the object of multiple debates for years," Faber told the newspaper. "Is it indispensable? In any case, I do not hold a dogmatic view on the matter."
Faber has also faced calls from activist investor Bluebell Capital Partners to step down, after the firm took a stake in the company late last year. [Pic:©Moovstock/123RF.COM]