The latest Form 4 filing by Carl C. Icahn reveals the acquisition of another 50,900 shares in speech recognition and digital imaging company Nuance Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:NUAN). The stock was acquired on December 16 at a price of $14.2 per share, bringing the activist investor’s total beneficial holding in NUAN to 60,784,623 shares. Earlier this year, ValueWalk first reported Icahn’s intentions to acquire a large stake and sell the company or break it up.
Clout on Nuance board
Last October, Icahn gained two seats on the board of Nuance to which he appointed Brett Icahn, and David Schecter, co-managers of the Sargon Portfolio, a designated portfolio of assets within the various private investment funds comprising the Investment segment of Icahn Enterprises LP (NASDAQ:IEP).
As per the terms of the nomination and standstill agreement with the company, the Icahn Group and its affiliates have agreed to support the Company’s slate of director nominees, which will include Icahn and Schechter, at Nuance’s 2014 Annual Meeting of Stockholders and will not acquire more than 20% of the company’s outstanding voting shares during the standstill period.
An encore of Hain Celestial?
Icahn had announced the win of the two board seats, and the appointment of Brett Icahn and David Schecter in characteristic fashion, tweeting, “I’m optimistic their impact at NUAN will be similar to The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAIN), where stock went from $20.20 to $79.56 over the 3 years they sat on the board.”
Icahn: activist investing
Icahn makes no secret of his prowess as an activist investor, declaring he had spent a great deal of time and effort perfecting its use, and that there had never been a better time for activist investing.
“Unlike the individual investor, we have the wherewithal to purchase companies that we feel we can operate more effectively than incumbent management. In addition, through our Investment segment, we are in a position to pursue our activist strategy by purchasing stock or debt positions and trying to promulgate change through a variety of activist approaches, ranging from speaking and negotiating with the board and CEO to proxy fights, tender offers and taking control. We work diligently to enhance value for all shareholders and we believe that the best way to do this is to make underperforming management teams and boards accountable or to replace them.” (Excerpt from Investor Presentation of Icahn Enterprises L.P., December 2013)
Nuance is a leader in cutting edge speech recognition software. It provides the Siri voice recognition software in Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s iPhones.
Yesterday it announced that its Dragon Drive automotive-grade voice platform supporting the Mandarin Chinese language is powering TCL Cartel’s Smart System of Connected Drive and Information Service based on the Android platform. As a result, drivers are able to speak to the system to make calls, find and play music or change the radio station, get directions and hear the latest news articles read aloud.
In October the company announced that its FreeSpeech voice biometrics technology was used by Barclays PLC (ADR) (NYSE:BCS) Wealth & Investment Management business in its call center, where it boosted security as well as elevated the customer experience. The technology securely and automatically authenticates the identity of customers when engaging in natural conversation with a customer service agent. This voice biometrics solution, which replaced dated PIN/password solutions, led to improved security, happier customers, and even happier agents who are now better able to concentrate on what their customers are calling about.