JANA Partners, the hedge fund managing more than $US10 billion in capital, thinks it has a bright future in pushing CEOs and corporate boards to improve for the better.
According to a source that met with JANA employees, the firm has invested nearly 40% of its current positions in activist stakes. The source didn’t disclose where JANA has parked cash, on a company-by-company basis.
Part of the fund’s thinking, according to the source, is that private equity funds with pent-up cash will start spending, which could lead to a spate of LBOs and carve-out deals, like the enormous Blackstone-General Electric deal earlier this year.
This doesn’t necessarily mean JANA has spent $US4 billion loading up on stocks and pushing for change — the source admitted he doesn’t know how big JANA’s cash reserves are outside of the fund’s investments. Some of JANA’s recent stakes include eBay, PetSmart, Hertz and Walgreen.
Still, it speaks to just how much activists are looking to put capital to work pushing for change at corporations, at a time when money has been extraordinarily cheap to hedge funds.
Wednesday, JANA founder Barry Rosenstein was joined by other hedge fund pros who happily proclaimed that their work as activists has become easier, thanks to increasingly receptive corporate boards. It wasn’t always the case, though.
“Maybe I’d get a call from a lawyer,” years ago, after putting in a call to a CEO as an activist, Rosenstein said during his panel Wednesday. “Maybe they’d call the SEC.”
Right now, at the SALT Conference in Las Vegas, there are plenty of panels featuring bankers, hedge fund pros and DC politicos spanning a range of topics. There are also plenty of meetings being coordinated between funds like JANA, and the investors they would like to have boost their AUM. JANA marketing pros were out in force at SALT, according to one attendee that spoke with Business Insider.
The source declined to provide specifics when pressed for details about JANA’s latest performance.