The new word for the hot hedge fund trade of 2016

A solar flare on the sunNASAThe hot new hedge fund is ‘bumpatrage.’

There’s a hot new word taking hold among activist investors.

Bumpatrage.

It’s a little different than standard M&A arbitrage, which requires traders to make bets on whether already-announced deals will be completed.

Bumpatrage, in short, is where investors move into a stock and threaten to scupper a deal unless the bidder “bumps” their price up a bit.

A report from FTI Consulting and Activist Insight said that shareholder activism is shifting, and that some portfolio managers could increasingly use their sizeable pocketbooks to bully buyers into better bids.

The report stated that 80% of participants in the survey, which took in the views of 24 activists, said that merger activism would increase in the coming year.

The report said:

Merger activism and operational activism are expected to be the predominant campaigns over the next twelve months and activists are almost universally finding it easier to reach settlements with management teams…

…Activism aimed at either increasing consideration in an announced merger (“bumpatrage”) or attempting to stop an announced merger are widely perceived to be the type most likely to increase. Nearly 80% of investors surveyed think merger activism will rise in the coming year.

One recent example of bumpatrage was Carl Icahn’s push in 2013 for a higher price on the take-private of Dell by Michael Dell. Dell and his private equity backers ended up pushing the price up from $US13.65 to $US13.88.

The FTI Consulting report also suggested that the activist funds surveyed believed that there was limited future opportunities for activism at mega-cap companies. A majority of respondents said they believe future opportunities would come from small cap and mid cap companies.

Screen Shot 2015 11 16 at 12.53.19 PMFTI ConsultingRespondents to a recent study are looking for more opportunities in small-cap activism.

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