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The Morning Brief: Activist Thomas Sandell Wins the Farm at Bob Evans

Thomas Sandell's Sandell Asset Management has emerged as the victor in an activist campaign and proxy battle at Bob Evans Farms. The New York Times reports that Sandell won at least five seats on the board, based on the preliminary vote count from the annual shareholder meeting. Sandell owns just over 6 percent of the Columbus, Ohio-based restaurant and packaged foods chain. For nearly a year he has been criticizing Bob Evans's management and making a case for the company to consider selling or spinning off its packaged foods unit and its real estate.

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Some Valeant Pharmaceuticals stockholders are having second thoughts about backing William Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management and Valeant in their joint effort to take over Allergan, Reuters reports. It isn't just that Allergan is resisting -- with a lawsuit -- and Valeant's stock has gone down 6 percent since the start of the year, causing the value of its cash and stock offer to decline by $5 billion, to $48 billion. Last week Jeffrey Ubben's ValueAct Capital Partners became the first large shareholder to reconsider the deal. Now five other large shareholders, including Gautam Dhingra, CEO of High Pointe Capital Management, have told Reuters that, though most support the deal, they have concerns. Some worry that it won't happen at all, while others say the chase might be so long and costly that it undermines the rewards.

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Thanks in large part to Ackman's 9.7 percent position in Allergan, however, the Botox maker is number 4 on FactSet's new list of the Top 50 hedge fund holdings as of the end of Q2 2014, based on 13F filings. Other firms that bought significant stakes in Allergan included Paulson & Co., Mason Capital Management, and Och-Ziff Capital Management Group. Valeant was number 6 on the list. Although 57 fund firms cashed in all of their Valeant stock and 148 funds cut their positions, 81 funds opened new positions and 191 added to their Valeant holdings. Those who exited Valeant included Adage Capital Management, Discovery Capital Management and Daniel Loeb's Third Point, while Steven Cohen's family office Point72 Asset Management added to its position. The 10 stocks with the largest hedge fund holdings were, in order: Apple, Actavis, Icahn Enterprises, Allergan, Microsoft Corporation, Valeant, Time Warner Cable, Air Products and Chemicals, American International Group and Charter Communications.

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Singapore has a new billion-dollar hedge fund. Quantedge Global Fund, which has also been Asia's best-performing macro fund of recent vintage, grew its assets to $1.05 billion as of the end of June, Bloomberg reports. Quantedge launched in October 2006 with only $3 million, and has had annualized returns of 33 percent since then -- the best performance by a macro fund in the region, according to Eurekahedge in Singapore.

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In the city reputed to be the world's most expensive, it looks like hedge fund employees are going to have to do some belt-tightening. The salary-data provider Emolument.com reports that in the past two years the average bonus for hedge fund employees in London has declined by 94 percent, according to Bloomberg. That's based on an average for directors of $13,300 in 2014, down from $66,370 in 2013 and $224,000 in 2012. Emolument blamed a dip in profits, along with rising compliance and marketing costs.

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