Procter & Gamble CEO defends plan at staid shareholder meeting

CINCINNATI, Tue Oct 9, 2012 – Procter & Gamble Co.’s CEO stood behind the company’s plan for increasing profit and sales at a drama-free annual meeting notable for the absence of William Ackman, the activist investor who has pushed hard for change in recent months at the world’s largest maker of household products.

Chief Executive Bob McDonald defended the strategy of developing major new products while the company at the same time seeks to cut $10 billion in costs.

Tuesday’s meeting, held in P&G’s hometown of Cincinnati, came as something of a respite for McDonald months after Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management took a stake in P&G, putting pressure on the CEO and the board to improve performance.

McDonald, who has been at the helm since July 2009, is refocusing on core categories, countries and innovations with both the $10 billion restructuring and a strategy laid out in June that homes in on the company’s 40 biggest businesses, 20 biggest new products and 10 key developing markets.

Ackman, who disclosed his stake in the maker of Tide detergent and Crest toothpaste too late to have any proposals on the agenda, was not in attendance, and only one shareholder referred to him, asking why it took the investment of an activist to boost P&G’s stock.

“If we remain focused on the plan I talked about, the 40/20/10 plan, with improved innovation from discontinuous innovation, with productivity improvement, then we are all convinced that shareholders will get an increase in value and the stock will reflect that,” McDonald replied, without mentioning Ackman directly. “We are focused like a laser, we are holding our own feet to the fire to do this.”