Citing unnamed sources, the Journal reports Elliot has amassed $1 billion in EMC shares, roughly a 2 percent stake, which would make it the company’s fifth largest shareholder, according to Reuters.
Activist hedge funds acquire shares in order to press for major changes at a company, either to get the stock price moving or to get the company sold in a manner favorable to shareholders. The big-ticket item among Elliott’s demands is reportedly the spinout of VMware, on the theory that EMC and VMware share would both benefit from the separation. Although publicly traded, VMware is about 80 percent owned by EMC.
One possible response would be for EMC to just buy the fraction of VMware that it doesn’t already own. That would cost about $8 billion, Re/code reported.
Elliott’s demands would be published publicly in the form of an SEC schedule 13-D, the form used for reporting the acquisition of notable amounts of stock. Activist hedge funds use this vehicle frequently, appending the 13-D with an open letter airing their grievances, sometimes very colorfully.
Elliott has been hot for the networking sector lately. Its highest-profile target has been Juniper, and new CEO Shaygan Kheradpir, who took over in January, seems to be making the cost-cutting moves Elliott demanded. Kheradpir’s appointment was announced in November, and Elliott came calling two weeks after he was appointed — so there’s a chance that the cuts would have happened anyway.
Elliot also pressed Juniper to launch a dividend — which is happening starting this quarter — and to cull its product lines to refocus the business.
In the case of Riverbed, Elliott wants the company to put itself up for sale. The hedge fund has even offered more than $3 billion to buy Riverbed itself. Riverbed keeps turning down that offer.
Last week, Riverbed announced that second-quarter revenues would fall short of expectations, giving Elliott a soapbox to preach its position yet again.
VMware is due to announce its quarterly earnings on Tuesday, July 22, followed by EMC on July 23.