ValueAct hedge fund to pay record fine to DOJ

Jeffrey UbbenYouTube/ Kellogg School of ManagementJeff Ubben, the CEO of ValueAct.

Activist hedge fund ValueAct has agreed to pay $11 million in a settlement with the Department of Justice, the highest ever settlement for the charge the fund faced.

ValueAct is paying following allegations that it didn’t properly notify authorities about purchasing voting shares in a big 2014 merger, according to a press release from the DoJ.

That proposed deal was between Baker Hughes and Halliburton, two of the three largest oilfield-services companies in the world. The fund purchased more than $2.5 billion of Halliburton and Baker Hughes voting shares at the time allegedly with the intent of influencing the companies’ business decisions, the DoJ said.

“ValueAct acquired substantial stakes in Halliburton and Baker Hughes in the midst of our antitrust review of the companies’ proposed merger, and used its position to try to influence the outcome of that process and certain other business decisions,” principal deputy assistant attorney general Renata Hesse, head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, said in the press statement.

“ValueAct was not entitled to avoid the HSR requirements by claiming to be a passive investor, while at the same time injecting itself in this manner.”

The federal HSR law requires investors to notify and wait during transactions meeting certain size thresholds as those investments go under antitrust review.

Halliburton and Baker Hughes abandoned the proposed merger deal in May this year after the U.S. Antitrust Division sued to block it.

Before the $11 million ValueAct settlement, the highest fine previously paid for such a violation was $5.7 million, according to the statement.

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