Activist investor Starboard says it has 9.3% stake in software firm Commvault

BOSTON, March 30 (Reuters) - Activist investor Starboard Value LP has built a stake in U.S. data protection and data management software company Commvault, saying in a regulatory filing that it felt the shares were undervalued when it purchased them.

The New York-based hedge fund has built a roughly 9.3% position in the company, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing made public on Monday afternoon. The filing said the firm owns 4.3 million shares.

Shares of Commvault jumped 7.3% in after hours trading, after having closed the session at $39.13.

Starboard, run by Jeffrey Smith, often seeks operational changes at the companies it targets. The Commvault filing did not give any hints as to what Starboard may be planning, saying only that the shares, when bought, “were undervalued and represented an attractive investment opportunity.”

The hedge fund began buying forward contracts in February and bought common stock this month, according to the regulatory filing.

Starboard did not respond to a request for comment and Commvault did not have an immediate comment.

This is not the first time that Tinton Falls, NJ-headquartered Commvault has faced an activist investor in its stock. Two years ago, Elliott Management and Commvault reached an agreement to add two independent directors suggested by Elliott.

Last year, Commvault CEO Robert Hammer stepped down and was replaced by Sanjay Mirchandani.

Commvault’s stock has dropped 14% since January, holding up better than many other companies that have seen their shares battered by panic selling sparked by fears over the spreading coronavirus. In the last five days, the stock price surged nearly 25%.

Starboard is best know for having replaced the entire board at Darden Restaurants Inc, the parent of Olive Garden, six years ago. Starboard often asks for and receives more board seats than other activist investors, bankers have said.

Last week, Starboard and cloud content management and file sharing service Box Inc reached an agreement to put three independent directors on the board. Starboard owns a 7.5% in Box.

Two weeks ago, Starboard Value nominated four directors to the board of eBay, pressuring the e-commerce company for the second year in a row after having helped fill one board seat last year.

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien