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Morning Brief: Steel Partners Boosts Stake in Babcock & Wilcox

The low-profile activist hedge fund manager now owns 13.2 percent of the power generation company.

  • By Stephen Taub

Warren Lichtenstein’s Steel Partners lifted its stake in Babcock & Wilcox Enterprises to 13.2 percent, according to a regulatory filing. In addition, the activist hedge fund manager, which has maintained a mostly low profile in recent years, said the power generation company gave it permission to boost its stake to 30 percent. Steel Partners also said it is exploring the possibility of negotiating a confidentiality agreement related to its earlier proposal to acquire all of Babcok’s shares as well as participating in the company’s proposed rights offering.

In December, it offered to acquire Babcock for $6 per share. On February 1, the company named a new chief executive officer, Leslie Kass, effective immediately. In early February Steel Partners reported raising its stake to 11.8 percent as of January 26. Shares of Babcock surged 3.8 percent on Monday, to close at $5.74 per share. Even so, the stock is still down 15 percent in the past week alone.

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Boaz Weinstein’s Saba Capital Management disclosed it owns 5.73 percent of Western Asset High Income Opportunity Fund, a closed-end mutual fund. The disclosure was made in a form 13G filing, meaning the investment is passive. We have earlier reported that Saba has launched activist fights with a large number of closed-end funds over the past few years.

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ValueAct Capital sold 5 million shares of CBRE in March 1 for $45.78 per share. This reduced the San Francisco activist firm’s stake in the commercial real estate giant to 5.9 percent.

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Point72 Asset Management, L.P. disclosed it owns 6 percent of the biotechnology company Agenus. Point72, the family office of Steven Cohen, made the filing in a 13G, which means the investment is passive.

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Boothbay Fund Management disclosed it owns 6.4 percent of Union Acquisition Corp., a blank check company created to do some sort of deal. The company, which recently went public, says that while a prospective target will not be limited to any particular industry or geographic region, it initially intends to focus on businesses located in Latin America.

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