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Morning Brief: Saba Presses on Its Latest Proxy Fight

Boaz Weinstein’s activist hedge fund is asking a proxy adviser to back his case.

  • By Stephen Taub

Boaz Weinstein’s Saba Capital Management appealed to a prominent proxy advisory firm to support its case for opposing a new investment advisor for the Alpine Total Dynamic Dividend Fund, a closed-end mutual fund. On January 18, Saba filed a preliminary proxy statement opposing the fund’s agreement to transfer its advisory agreement from Alpine Woods to Aberdeen Asset Managers Limited. A vote is scheduled for March 14, and Saba is recommending Alpine shareholders withhold their votes for the nominees for election as new trustees. In a regulatory filing on Monday, Saba, which owns 9 percent of the fund, disclosed it took its case to proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services. Saba is calling for the closed end fund, which is currently trading at an 8.45 percent discount to net asset value, to permit shareholders to exit their investment at its NAV.

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In a separate filing, Saba reduced its stake in Blackrock Debt Strategies Fund, a closed-end fund, to a little less than 7.8 million shares, or 12.98 percent of the total outstanding. The hedge fund firm also changed its filing status from a 13D — which suggests an activist stake — to a 13G, which is passive. Last year Saba was urging the fund to buy back 30 percent of its shares. On February 16, the fund announced a buyback program over the next three years based on several self-imposed measures.

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Highbridge Capital Management said that as of February 16 it owned two million shares of DFB Healthcare Acquisitions Corp., or 6.21 percent of the blank check company. DFB Healthcare is sponsored by Deerfield/RAB Ventures, a joint venture between healthcare hedge fund specialist Deerfield Management and DFB Healthcare’s management team. DFB is led by CEO Richard Barasch, who has more than 30 years of experience in healthcare services, health insurance, and related industries.

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Man Group’s GLG promoted credit analyst Andrew Freestone to portfolio manager. He has spent five years at the firm.

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