Nelson Peltz is a legendary corporate raider and one of the most successful activist investors in the financial world. With over 40 years of investment experience, Peltz is probably best known for being one of the founders of the alternative investment company Trian Fund Management. In the 1980s he made a fortune with investments that were largely financed through junk bonds. Then in the 1990s the colorful billionaire famously acquired Snapple from Quaker Oats for $300 million and revived the moribund brand, before finally unloading it three years later to Cadbury Schweppes for $1.45 billion. Since then, Peltz has been a major player in Wendy’s, Heinz, Pepsi, and other food giants.
The scion of a comfortable upper-middle-class family, Peltz's early academic record was superb. After attending a prestigious prep school he enrolled in the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. On campus he joined the Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta. But despite his blueblood credentials, Peltz couldn't stay put in academia and eventually left Wharton for good in 1963, never finishing his degree.
His real schooling started when he went to work for the family business, which sold frozen foods to institutions. Peltz had intended to stay there for just two weeks, hoping to earn his fare out to Oregon, where he had a job teaching ski-racing to youngsters. But the future power investor (who still only had a high school diploma) got hooked on the world of commerce, and soon found himself building his family's tiny frozen-food business in Brooklyn into the largest distributor in the Northeast. By 1972, he was the president of a newly acquired company called Flagstaff, which Peltz successfully took public.
By the late seventies, the colorful businessman was notorious for throwing wild parties, leading a fast-track social life, and often showed up in New York City's society columns. But this did not deter his business acumen, so that by the mid-1980s Peltz marshaled more than $1 billion in junk bond debt to assemble the biggest packaging company in the world, Triangle Industries.
Apart from his role as entrepreneur, Peltz is involved with a number of philanthropic organizations that range from the Prostate Cancer Foundation to the Intrepid Museum Foundation. A devout Jew, Peltz has donated huge sums of money for the growth of the Jewish community in America. He has been repeatedly recognized by The National Association of Corporate Directors as one of the most powerful individuals in global corporate governance. In March 2017, Forbes listed Peltz as one of the 25 Highest-Earning hedge fund managers in 2016.