Harbinger says it's not dumping Times, Media General

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners said it is not pulling out of high-profile investments like The New York Times Co NYT.N and Media General Inc MEG.N, seeking to quell market rumors after their share prices dropped sharply on Monday.

Philip Falcone, who runs the hedge fund, told Reuters that investors would be mistaken if they thought selling by Harbinger was behind the double-digit percentage declines in stocks it holds, including the Times, Media General Inc MEG.N, Cablevision Systems Corp CVC.N, Cleveland-Cliffs Inc CLF.N and Calpine Corp CPN.N

“People are speculating as to what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, but the reality is different from what they think,” Falcone, Harbinger’s senior managing director, said in a phone interview.

He said that while their main fund’s composition has changed since its most recent 13 F regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on August 13, Harbinger remained bullish on its investments.

Falcone said some investors may have read out-of-date regulatory filings and assumed that the hedge fund was being hit badly by the market downturn in the wake of the collapse of Lehman Bros LEH.P.

“People are looking at the 13 F registration and making certain assumptions. Quite to the contrary, we’re well positioned in this market,” said Falcone.

Several of Harbinger's big holdings fell more than the overall market on Monday, with the S&P 500 Index .SPX shedding 4.7 percent.

Among the fund's high-profile media holdings, Media General closed down 19.7 percent, New York Times fell 11.5 percent and Cablevision was down 12.3 percent. Other investments like Calpine CPN.N fell 10.51 percent and Cleveland-Cliffs fell 10.41 percent.

Harbinger has developed a reputation as an activist investor -- a tag it does not like -- after taking significant ownership stakes in companies and then trying to force change on the board.

It became the fourth-largest outside investor in Cablevision last month and said on Sept 4 it now owns around 9.1 percent of the New York cable television operator.

On Friday, it urged Cleveland Cliff shareholders to support its proposal to acquire more than one-third of voting shares but said it was not seeking board representation.

In the last year, it has won seats on the board of the New York Times and Media General.

Editing by Leslie Gevirtz