The Morning Brief: Saba Settles with Clough Capital Funds

July 11, 2017   Stephen Taub

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Fund firm Clough has agreed to make some changes that Saba had pushed for in its activist campaign.

Score this one as a triple victory for Boaz Weinstein’s Saba Capital. Three closed-end mutual funds managed by Clough Capital agreed to make changes designed to help narrow their discounts to the net asset value (NAV) and avoid proxy fights with the hedge fund.

The boards of trustees of Clough Global Equity Fund and Clough Global Opportunities Fund each approved cash tender offers for up to 37.5 percent of their shares, while the board of the Clough Global Dividend and Income Fund approved a tender for 32.5 percent of the shares at a price equal to 98.5 percent of each fund’s respective NAV. Each of the three funds also agreed that over the next four years they will make monthly distributions.

"We are very pleased to be implementing a discount management program that will provide our shareholders with liquidity but more importantly, with the 4-year commitment to a managed distribution program, we believe we are positioning the Funds for the future as attractive vehicles for investors who seek regular and predictable distributions," states Robert Butler, chairman of the three Clough funds, in a press release.

Last month, Saba launched proxy fights with the three funds, seeking to add several people to the boards and change the board terms to one year. These actions are consistent with a larger strategy deployed by Saba for over a year, in which it has been buying closed-end funds trading at a discount to NAV and then trying to coax the funds to take some sort of measures to narrow or close the discount.

Separately, Saba closed down its three-person London office, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The news was first reported by Reuters.

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Credit Suisse slightly raised its price target on Facebook, the most popular hedge fund stock, from $175 to $180, and lifted its earnings estimates. In a note to clients, the bank explained it increased its advertising pricing estimates for the social media pioneer’s mobile newsfeed and other activities, stressing its previous estimates were "overly conservative." The bank added that its investment thesis for Facebook’s stock remains unchanged, asserting it "will be able to drive long term revenue growth without a material lift in ad loads." Shares of Facebook Monday climbed 1.4 percent to close at $153.50.

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Credit Suisse cuts its price target on Snap from $30 to $25 and reduced its estimates citing "near-term monetization headwinds." In a note to clients ahead of the social media company’s second quarter earnings release, the investment bank states: "While we were hoping for Snap to exhibit a more comfortable growth path, we are reminded that nascent companies sometimes grow in fits and starts." Shares of Snap fell 1.1 percent on Monday, to close at $16.99.

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Investors in Valeant Pharmaceuticals International continue to like when the embattled drug company reduces its debt. The stock jumped 2.65 percent on Monday, to close at $16.66, after the company announced that it paid down $811 million of its senior secured term loans, using the proceeds from the sale of Dendreon Pharmaceuticals. As a result of the latest transaction, Valeant says all mandatory amortization has been paid through 2019. Altogether, Valeant has reduced its debt by more than $4.3 billion since the end of the first quarter of 2016.


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