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Third Point: Put off Campbell CEO search until after board vote

Third Point LLC pressed Campbell Soup Co. to put off its search for a permanent CEO on Oct. 10, the latest blow in the activist hedge fund's campaign for change at the soup maker.

In a letter to Les Vinney, the chairman of Campbell's board of directors, Third Point said that the Camden, N.J.-based food company should put its executive search on hold until after board elections later this fall. Campbell shareholders are expected to vote on board candidates, including a full slate put forth by Third Point, at the company's annual meeting Nov. 29.

"No top-notch candidate would join a company when the Board that selected them could be replaced within a few weeks," Third Point wrote. The hedge fund asked Campbell for a response to its request by 5 p.m. ET on Oct. 15.

If Third Point's candidates win seats on the board, those board members "would be better positioned to recruit a first-rate CEO than the current board," Third Point's letter continued.

Interim President, CEO and Director Keith McLoughlin is leading Campbell as it faces the challenge from Third Point. McLoughlin took the helm after his predecessor, Denise Morrison, left the company in May.

Since July, Third Point has sought allies in a challenge to Campbell's management. As of Oct. 9, Third Point and other major investors seeking change owned about 9.8% of Campbell's outstanding shares, according to an SEC filing.

The hedge fund has lobbied the company to seek a buyer, though Campbell opted only to sell a couple of its business divisions after a strategic review earlier this year.