JANA's activist strategy takes concentrated bets on undervalued companies where the investment team has high conviction that their actions can trigger a catalyst that will “close the gap between fair value and what the stock is trading at when we acquire it. We control our own outcome and are not dependent on the good will of the market to increase shareholder value,” Mr. Rosenstein said.
“We've conducted 40 activist campaigns over the past 11 years, and we prefer to work cooperatively with management,” Mr. Rosenstein said. “The outcome will be the same if they fight us and because nobody benefits from a fight, when we show up, the conversation tends to become more constructive.”
The firm has $3.5 billion under management and in commitments, primarily from institutional investors.
Paulson & Co. Inc., New York, an event-driven and merger arbitrage specialist, also has had success over the years with occasional “constructive activist” campaigns, said John Paulson, founder and president.
In late March, Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. agreed with the hedge fund manager's recommendation to sell non-core business units to focus on property and casualty insurance, group benefits and mutual funds. Paulson & Co. is the insurer's biggest shareholder and worked with the firm to improve its share price (Pensions & Invest-ments, March 21).
“I would say that our overwhelming preference is to work constructively with management to improve shareholder value. You have a choice. You can always just sell the stock if you see too much recalcitrance from management, but we had an open and collaborative dialogue with Hartford's management,” Mr. Paulson said.
Paulson & Co. manages $22.4 billion for institutional and other investors.
Other corporate campaigns that Paulson & Co. and other activist hedge funds wage can often take years to bear fruit, a fact that makes them especially well-suited for institutional investors with long-term horizons, said Harlan Zimmerman, senior partner based in the London office of Cevian Capital.
“A lot of the interest we've seen of late from institutional investors is driven by their realization that most investors — and by that I mean money managers — are becoming more and more short term in focus. Volatility means predicting what markets will do is getting harder,” Mr. Zimmerman said.
“But endowments, foundations and pension funds are in a good position to invest with hedge funds like ours that practice horizon arbitrage, where as activists we focus on long-term value. When the whole world is moving in one direction based on short-term motivations, there is greater and greater opportunity to capture alpha by being much more long term in our approach,” he added.
Cevian Capital manages $6 billion for institutional investors in activist strategies.