Queue The Merger Talk: Carlson Capital Active At Vitamin Shoppe Inc (VSI) by Stock Pucker
Start the merger engines, featuring Vitamin Shoppe and GNC Holdings
Clint Carlson and his Carlson Capital went active on Vitamin Shoppe today, revealing a 5.34% stake. Meaning it upped its stake more than 150% from what it had at the end of 2014. The vitamin retailers stock is spiking 10% on the news. It’ll still be a small part (less than 0.7%) of Carlson’s $10 billion-plus fund.
However, it does say something that Carlson has been selective of late. In the fund’s old age, it’s averaging an activist campaign every year or so. Its last was Pennsylvania REI in May of last year. Before that, it was Boise in September of 2013.
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There’s been plenty of machinations that GNC should buy Vitamin Shoppe. This could be part of that push. Previously, there was a handful of large shareholders calling for Vitamin Shoppe to consider a PE buyout or merger with GNC. There are benefits to that, including combining websites, lowering price promotions, merging back-end operations and closing a significant number of overlapping stores. Carlson was the final straw to get Boise sold to Packaging Corp in 2013, is he the final straw in the GNC-Vitamin Shoppe merger.