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Morning Brief: Ackman’s Pershing Square Discloses Nike Stake

The activist investor, who has lately vowed to take a lower profile, found himself in the headlines again with the disclosure of a stake in the sportswear giant.

  • By Stephen Taub

Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management has taken a passive stake in sneaker giant-cum-sportswear juggernaut Nike, according to Reuters, citing an investor in the firm who attended the activist firm’s Thursday evening client dinner. Apparently, the stock has already delivered the firm a 30 percent return, the report said.

Ackman, of course, has lost money for the past three years and recently announced layoffs of about 18 percent of his firm’s employees. He also vowed to take a low profile. Ackman also reportedly named Ali Namvar to the firm’s advisory board, according to the report. Namvar currently sits on the board of Pershing Square’s activist holding Chipotle Mexican Grill. Shares of Nike Friday rose just 0.50 percent, to about $68, a modest move for a newly disclosed stock holding by an activist. So far this year Pershing Square Holdings is up 1.3 percent through January 23.

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ValueAct Capital partner Dylan Haggart has been named to the board of directors of Seagate Technology, according to an announcement made by the computing storage company. Haggart will serve on the board’s compensation committee. He has served as an advisor to the Seagate board since 2016. Haggart was appointed along with Judy Bruner, who has more than 35 years of financial management experience in the technology industry. ValueAct currently owns 7.4 percent of Seagate.

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JANA Partners said William McComb has agreed to be part of a slate of board nominees if the activist firm decides to launch a proxy fight with Bloomin’ Brands, the owner of Outback Steakhouse and other restaurant chains. JANA has not yet announced plans to submit nominees. McComb is the former CEO of Fifth & Pacific, previously known as Liz Claiborne.

In November JANA said it owned 12.4 percent of Bloomin' Brands in a filing made jointly with Glenn Murphy, the founder and CEO of FIS-Holdings, Ltd., a consumer-focused investment firm that invests in undervalued businesses, and Neal Yanofsky, an investor and consultant to restaurant companies and private equity investors. In the earlier filing, JANA said it intends to discuss strategic alternatives with the board of directors and management.

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Perceptive Advisors disclosed it owns about 2.2 million shares of Histogenics Corporation, or 8.8 percent of the company, which is developing restorative cell therapies. The healthcare-oriented hedge fund firm owned about 1.777 million shares at the end of the third quarter. On Thursday Histogenics closed on a direct offering of more than 2.69 million shares.

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