Activist junkies, find the latest news and stories on activist investing below. Tip us off at @activiststocks or email, and signup for our daily newsletter.

News:

  • Elliott Management has taken a 7.5% stake in Axis, which is a Sweden-based surveillance camera maker. The idea being that Paul Singer’s fund will push Canon to up its offer for the company.
  • Crovex Management upped its Signet Jewelers stake to 7.2% — a less than 5% in shares owned. But the bigger news is that the fund is supporting Signet’s recent plans to buy back $100M to $150M in stock, while also upping its dividend. Shares of Signet are up 83% since Corvex went active on the name in Jan. 2014.
  • Engaged Capital is switching its tone, now looking for a short-slate of three directors at Rovi (which recently expanded its board to seven). The fund was initially looking to elect four board members to the six-person board.
  • Dow Chemical is spinning off its chloralkali segment to Olin. Dow shareholders will get 49.5% of the new company.
  • Blum Capital dumps about 30% of its ITT Educational stake.

Stories

  • @LaurenLaCapra puts out a piece about BNY Mellon, noting that a recruiting firm was solicited to come up with a list of candidates to take over Gerald Hassell’s job as CEO. One candidate being Morgan Stanley’s head of wealth/investment management. This of course is Interesting because Mick’s Marcato Capital wants Hassell gone, while Peltz’s Trian Partners has publicly defended the CEO [link]
  • @stockpucker notes that the battle wages between Groveland Capital and Biglari Holdings, with the ISS weighing in yesterday. This has quietly attracted its own circle of groupies and has a surprisingly high number of Biglari defenders. Key takeaway, “For Groveland, things get a little harder without the ISS support. The largest Biglari shareholders are the likes of Vanguard, Dimensional and Blackrock. Has Groveland made a fairly convincing case? Seems so; but will the big mutual funds finally stand up and be counted? Or will they continue to sit quietly, remaining paid shills for the corporate coffer raiders?” Well, we’d count Mario Gabelli and his GAMCO at those that are standing up to be counted; threatening to side with Groveland if Biglari doesn’t withhold the 19% of the company it owns via side companies [link]
  • @SallyPancakes at Business Insider does a quick overview of the Vanity Fair piece on Bill Ackman. The whole point is that Ackman would essentially pay money to debate Marty Lipton about activist investing, to the tune of $1M. What are the chances we could get @WhitneyTilson to debate about Lumber Liquidators? Any takers? [link to VF piece overview by BI]
  • @joshkosman pens a piece for the NY Post about how Nelson Peltz made the wrong decision, choosing Mondelez over Kraft when it split. “Key note, “I think he is a little disappointed,” said a source close to Peltz” [link]
  • @TheEconomist writes that Dan Loeb has essentially cracked proverbial Japanese secrecy nut with Fanuc. The Japanese robot maker is becoming more shareholder friendly and being more forthright with the public. Key quote, “…Fanuc has long been one of the most difficult Japanese companies to deal with. However, even if it is merely going through the motions of opening up, its move is significant” [link]
  • The recent opening up of Fanuc is a big change of tone from the letter it “sent” Dan Loeb, aka Mr. Pink, earlier this month. In this letter, the “assistant to the assistant to the assistant…” writes, “…you’ll be pleased to know your efforts are not wasted and that we use these letters (and their envelopes) to heat our offices during the colder months of the year” [link]

Activist Stocks: Biglari Holdings Battle; Fanuc  And Loeb; Kraft