Mondelez has already taken steps to boost its operational performance, including shutting factories and shedding businesses.
The company has also set a share buyback of up to $13.7bn. However, analysts said Mr Ackman probably wants more. “We suspect Mr Ackman’s primary goal is to have Mondel¯ez sold,” JP Morgan analyst Ken Goldman wrote in a note.
A slowdown in growth for the global packaged food industry has sparked a wave of consolidation as companies try to cut costs.
However, Mondelez’s shares were up less than 1% in trading amid doubts about whether a buyer could be found. The shares initially jumped on news that Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital would become the company’s biggest shareholder.
At the current share price of around $46.40, Mondelez is valued at about $80bn. Some analysts mentioned newly formed Kraft Heinz or PepsiCo as potential buyers.
JP Morgan’s Goldman, though, said Kraft Heinz backer 3G Capital might be reluctant to make another acquisition so soon after its $46bn deal to combine Kraft and Heinz.
With Mondelez trading at 18 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, PepsiCo would find it “challenging” to buy Mondelez, he said.