news 7 months ago

Daniel Loeb’s Third Point, Activist Investor, Takes Stake In ViacomCBS

Deadline — Jill Goldsmith

Daniel Loeb’s Third Point Capital revealed Friday that it’s acquired a chunk of ViacomCBS stock, but the hedge fund did not indicate whether it’s planning to move into activist mode in the way that’s caused headaches for Sony and other companies.

In an SEC filing, Third Point indicated it had acquired 2.75 million ViacomCBS shares (less than 1% of the total number outstanding) for about $15.4 million in the fourth quarter.

Loeb may see the newly merged media company as a good buy. And it’s basically an entity run by the Redstone family via controlling shareholder National Amusements, with a limited amount of shares with meaningful voting power and not much room for activists to maneuver. But public stakeholders can always kick up some dust. In 2016, activist investor Eric Jackson, at that time manager director of SpringOwl Asset Management, went after Viacom executives (Sumner Redstone, Philippe Dauman and Thomas Dooley) to resign.

“As we have written about previously, activism, which is now over 50% of equity exposure, has been a source of outsized returns for us since 2011 and has become a more valuable strategy in a changing market environment. We have allocated internal resources to sourcing and implementing activist and constructivist ideas and increased exposure to these names,” Loeb wrote in a separate fourth-quarter investor letter.

The investor has agitated for years for Sony to split itself up and cut loose businesses from entertainment to semiconductors. Notwithstanding those calls for a breakup, Sony was listed as one of Third Point’s top performer year-to-date and month-to-date its its latest monthly filing. The fund owns 1.5 million shares of Sony.

ViacomCBS reports earnings next Thursday, February 20, its first disclosure of financials as a combined company since the merger closed in December.

Third Point also said it had reduced its stake Fox Corp. to 5 million shares from 8 million.

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