JANA Partners has gone public with a new activist target.
The hedge fund firm headed by Barry Rosenstein disclosed it
owns 8.3 percent of Whole Foods, the gourmet supermarket chain
with a reputation for extravagantly high prices. In a fresh 13D filing, JANA says the stock is
undervalued and represents an attractive investment opportunity
and threatened to launch a proxy fight if necessary.
"JANA has substantial experience analyzing and investing in
the grocery sector and more broadly across the food and retail
sectors," the filing states.
JANA has also teamed up with several other individuals it
asserts "possess significant operational, financial and
nutritional expertise." Altogether the group owns nearly 9
percent of the shares.
In the filing JANA said its plans to discuss a number of
things with Whole Foods, including changing the
company’s board and senior management composition,
addressing governance issues and its "chronic underperformance
for shareholders," optimizing the company’s real
estate and capital allocation strategies, and pursuing
opportunities to improve performance. Shares of Whole Goods
surged 10 percent, to $34.17, on the news.
Marcato Capital Management is turning up the heat on
Rent-A-Center, which is already the target of activist investor
Engaged Capital. Marcato, San Francisco-based activist hedge
fund firm headed by Mick McGuire III, fired off a letter on
Monday to the board of directors of the company, which rents
furniture, computers, electronics, and other items to
consumers, following its announcement Monday that it named Mark
Speese chief executive officer. The company’s
founder is currently the chairman and has served as interim CEO
since January 9. The company also Monday announced what it
calls a strategic plan designed to boost the
company’s growth, profitability and stock price,
defying calls to sell the company outright.
Marcato, which owns 4.9 percent of the stock, called on the
company to review all strategic alternatives, including a sale
of the entire company, which Engaged Capital had proposed in
February. In the letter, Marcato points out the
company’s return to shareholders eroded by 72
percent in the last 2-and-a-quarter years and it has trailed
its closest competitor over a variety of periods going back 10
"If the Board continues to resist a process to review
strategic alternatives now, Marcato plans to vote for Engaged
Capital’s director nominees at the upcoming annual
meeting," Marcato states in the letter.
Shares of Rent-A-Center rose more than 7 percent on Monday,
to close at $10.29. It is up 29 percent since Engaged went
public with its activist campaign in February.
Eminence Capital’s Ricky Sandler decided not to
stand for election to the board of directors of Tailored Brands
less than one month after the hedge fund manager and
men’s clothing retailer agreed to this
arrangement. In a regulatory filing, Sandler, whose firm
owns 14.9 percent of the shares, explained his change of heart,
citing "significant demands on his time relating to
Eminence’s other portfolio investments and his
executive obligations." He also stresses the decision "was not
related to any disagreement or dispute" with the company. In
March the board of directors of Tailored Brands agreed to
nominate Sandler to its board at the company’s
upcoming annual meeting.
Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart raised $1.4 billion from
three major firms: Tencent, eBay, and Microsoft. The company is
an important holding of
Tiger Global Management’s private equity
business. In fact, earlier this year Kalyan Krishnamurthy, a
former Tiger Global managing director, was named chief
executive as part of a wider restructuring.