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Market Cap £63.39bn
Enterprise Value £58.20bn
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Activist hedge funds stepped up calls for asset sales and spin-offs in 2019 -data

Wed 15th January, 2020 2:00pm
By Svea Herbst-Bayliss
    NEW YORK, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Hedge funds that push for
change at corporations stepped up their demands for asset
spin-offs and sales last year, making them part of nearly half
of all activist investor campaigns waged in 2019, according to
data released on Wednesday.
    "A record 99 campaigns with an M&A-related thesis were
launched in 2019," said Jim Rossman, the head of shareholder
advisory at Lazard, which compiled the statistics. Calls for
companies to be sold outright or for certain units to be
divested accounted for 47% of last year's activity, up from 35%
in previous years, Rossman said.
    Some of the most noteworthy mergers and acquisition plays
from last year include Carl Icahn pushing for Hewlett Packard
 HPE.N  to accept a takeover offer from Xerox  XRX.N . Icahn
owns shares in both companies.
    Icahn also pushed for a strategic review at Caesars which
was later purchased by Eldorado Resorts  ERI.O .
    At AT&T  T.N , Elliott Management urged the company to
consider selling off certain parts of its business. Elliott also
called on Marathon Petroleum  MPC.N  to break itself apart
before the company spun off its Speedway unit.
    The surge came as activist funds delivered their best
returns in years, posting an average 18.3% return in 2019, Hedge
Fund Research data show.
    Activism has picked up dramatically since the 2008 financial
crisis. But it was popular long before, including in the period
form the 1970s to late 1980s when financiers including Carl
Icahn and Nelson Peltz were called corporate raiders for
strong-arm tactics used to replace top management and improve
value for shareholders.
    Activists also shifted their focus abroad with more non-U.S.
companies being targeted, according to Lazard statistics.
    Last year non-U.S. targets made up 40% of all campaigns, up
from 30% in 2015. Among other destinations, they waged 19
campaigns in Japan, with Third Point returning for a second push
for changes at Sony  6758.T .
     

 (Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)
 ((svea.herbst@thomsonreuters.com; +617 856 4331; Reuters
Messaging: svea.herbst.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))
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