Activist investor Elliott Management has quietly built a small stake in Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, just weeks after shareholders approved the sale of its entertainment assets to Walt Disney for $96 billion.
Elliott Management’s stake was revealed in a filing to the Securities Exchange Commission, but the holding has been built up in class-B voting stock.
According to the filing, Elliott Management took a stake of a little below 2.1 million class-B shares, which have voting rights, in the final quarter of 2017-18 for more than $US100 million ($138 million). Fox has a market cap of $US83.6 billion, and like its sister company News Corporation, has a dual-class share structure, so it is hard to see what could be done with the current holding.
It is unclear what the intentions of the hedge fund founded by Paul Singer are and whether the stake is passive or active. An Elliott Management spokesman declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Fox, contacted on Wednesday evening, did not respond to correspondence.
Mr Singer has become internationally renowned for his activist investing activities. The US-based hedge fund’s stake in Fox is quite small and there are so far no indications it will run an activist campaign against the company. However, Fox executives, including soon-to-be chief executive Lachlan Murdoch and executive chairman Rupert Murdoch, who are both visiting Australia, will undoubtedly be keeping an eye on Elliott Management, if they have not already been in contact.
Elliott Management had a well-documented tussle with BHP, although it bought the miner’s UK-listed shares. Elliott advocated for asset sales and an end to the company’s dual listing. Elliott Management retains a 4.7 per cent stake in BHP’s UK listing.
It’s not the first time a famous activist investor has joined Fox’s register. ValueAct Capital Management co-founder Jeffrey Ubben joined the Fox board after building a stake in the company’s class-B shares in 2015.
He stepped down from the board in April this year and noted his support for the transaction with Disney. ValueAct still holds 23.6 million shares in Fox, or about 3 per cent of class-B stock.
Last year the New York-based Nathan Cummins Foundation led an unsuccessful shareholder revolt against Fox’s dual-class share structure, something for which the fund has agitated for a number of years at News Corp.