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The Morning Brief: Manning & Napier Buying 2100 Xenon

Manning & Napier said it is acquiring 2100 Xenon Group, an alternative investment manager that specializes in managed futures and global macro strategies. Under the deal, Manning & Napier will acquire three alternative investment product track records and add personnel with investment expertise in managed futures, including Jay Feuerstein, founder, CEO and chief investment officer of 2100 Xenon, and Jeff Bolduc, director of research. Feuerstein will be named to Manning & Napier’s senior research group as managing director of alternative strategies. Bolduc will be a portfolio manager. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Manning & Napier, which is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, had $52.1 billion of assets under management on February 28.

The proxy battle between Daniel Loeb’s Third Point and Sotheby’s has gotten nastier. In a very detailed regulatory filing late Tuesday making the case for shareholders to vote for its incumbent directors, the auction house asserted that Third Point “has made no case that change is warranted” and that Loeb’s director slate “adds no incremental relevant expertise” to the board. Sotheby’s also accused Loeb of engaging in a “self-interested transaction with Yahoo.” On Wednesday morning, Loeb created, which is a reprise of his earlier, calling it a website “for shareholders who support increased growth and a new agenda for Sotheby’s.” The website also asserts that “despite management touting a ‘record year’ in 2013,” Sotheby’s health is “not what the company would lead you to believe.” Stand by for the next grenade.

While many of the high-flying tech, Internet and biotech stocks have slumped since March 18, one that has surged is William Ackman’s favorite — Herbalife. Shares of the multi-level marketer of nutrition supplements have risen about 10 percent since then, including a 3.6 percent increase on Wednesday.

Steven Cohen’s new family office, Point72 Asset Management, disclosed it owned 6.6 percent of Macrogenics, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company. The stock had dropped nearly 40 percent since mid-March amid the wider selloff in biotech stocks, but rebounded by about 4 percent on Wednesday. Point72 said it owned Macrogenics as a passive investment on Tuesday, the same day the stock more than doubled its average volume and was multiples above its recent daily volume.

Ally Financial, the former General Motors financing unit bailed out by the U.S. government, priced its initial public offering at $25, at the low end of its $25 to $28 range. Even so, this should be a good deal for Daniel Loeb’s Third Point. We noted earlier that in his year-end letter to clients, Loeb said he has invested across the capital structure of Ally Financial, the former GMAC. He said Ally, which is offering 95 million shares, “fits the pattern of other profitable investments” he has made. It has a highly successful, nearly-completed restructuring that remains undervalued, “with an explosive earnings story led by a talented management team who are economically aligned with shareholders.” Loeb said he initially invested in Ally’s unsecured debt and preferred securities in 2011. In January, Loeb said he acquired 9.5 percent of the company in a series of private transactions over a six-month period. When he was still publicly disclosing his top holdings each month, Loeb said multiple Ally Financial securities were among his top five positions at the end of March 2013.

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