JANA Partners Pushes For McGraw-Hill (MHP) Split Up ~ market folly

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

JANA Partners Pushes For McGraw-Hill (MHP) Split Up

Ah, the smell of activist investors in the morning. Barry Rosenstein's hedge fund JANA Partners recently filed an amended 13D with the SEC in conjunction with the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan regarding shares of McGraw-Hill (MHP). The activist investment disclosure revealed that they now own 5.6% of the company.

They originally disclosed the stake earlier this month and have since bought over 1 million more shares. While JANA also focuses on event-driven investments, they're well known for making activist pushes to generate change in companies they invest in.

JANA's Split Up Plan

The hedge fund wants McGraw-Hill to split up into four entities: Standard & Poor's ratings agency, the indexing business of S&P, the information & media business, and the education unit.

It seems that this is a much more detailed and ambitious plan compared to what MHP was considering. The company was looking into divesting its educational publishing business and its broadcasting unit.

So why is JANA interested in MHP in the first place? In their filing, they write, "(MHP) has consistently underperformed its potential and traded at a sizable discount." So as always, the hedge fund wants to make money on their investment and think a split-up/spin-off is the ideal way to generate shareholder value.

The only potential 'hurdle' going forward (if you want to call it that), is that McGraw-Hill is largely a family business, though Mr. McGraw owns only around 4% of the company. It will be interesting to follow the activist saga unfold.

In recent portfolio disclosures, JANA has 24% of its reported US equity long investments allocated to one stock. Find out which one it is and see the rest of 25 hedge fund portfolios in the brand new issue of our premium newsletter.

Update: We've also posted JANA's presentation on McGraw-Hill.

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