August 14, 2018 / 9:35 PM / 2 years ago

Activist Starboard Value halves its stake in Newell: filing

FILE PHOTO: Jeffrey Smith, Managing Member, CEO and Chief Investment Officer for Starboard Value LP., speaks at the Sohn Investment Conference in New York City, U.S. May 4, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

BOSTON (Reuters) - Hedge fund Starboard Value said on Tuesday that it sold half of its stake in consumer products company Newell Brands, whose chief executive officer it sought to replace, about four months after ending its proxy contest.

The activist firm, run by Jeffrey Smith, said it owned 8.7 million shares of the maker of Sharpie markers, Mr. Coffee machines and Elmer’s Glue on June 30 after selling 9.8 million shares at some point during the second quarter. Starboard bought in during the first quarter of 2018.

The information came in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that requires large investment managers to say which U.S. stocks they own.

Early in the year, Starboard owned 3.8 percent of Newell and called for Chief Executive Michael Polk to be ousted and the entire board to be replaced. The company struck a deal giving Starboard two board seats in April.

Smith called the company is “extremely undervalued” in April.

Since January, Newell’s stock price has fallen 34 percent. In the last five days, it dropped 10 percent.

Starboard’s filing also showed that it sold half of its stake in mall operator Macerich Company. Starboard nominated directors for the firm in April.

It also sold 60 percent of its position in drugmaker Depomed, where it won board seats last year.

The fund’s biggest new position was a 4.3 million share stake in web development services company Group.

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Dan Grebler

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