Corvex Management & Soroban Capital Go Activist on Williams Companies (WMB) ~ market folly

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Corvex Management & Soroban Capital Go Activist on Williams Companies (WMB)

Keith Meister's activist hedge fund Corvex Management and Eric Mandelblatt's Soroban Capital Partners have entered into an agreement and jointly filed a 13D on shares of Williams Companies (WMB). 

Per the filing, they've disclosed a 5.28% stake in WMB with Corvex owning 13.6 million shares and another 5 million shares underlying call options. Soroban has revealed ownership of 17.4 million shares.

This excludes cash-settled swaps and options which represent an additional 24,213,599 shares.  If these were aggregated together, Corvex and Soroban would have an aggregate economic interest of 8.82% of the company with over 60.3 million shares.

It looks like Corvex was buying call options and selling puts in Late October and throughout November while Soroban was buying shares in late October.

Activist Investment Thesis

The hedge funds have met with management and the Board to discuss the company's operations, finances, strategy and governance.  The filing indicates,

"(Williams) has a strong competitive position in an attractive industry with tremendous growth opportunities but recent operational and financial missteps have prevented the Issuer’s Shares from reflecting full value. The Reporting Persons intend to discuss the following with one or more of the persons referenced above (among other topics): enhancing the structure and value of the Issuer’s investments and assets; evaluating and financing of capital projects; optimizing the Issuer’s capital structure and dividend policy; improving the Issuer’s operational and financial execution; and the potential for participating in strategic combinations given the rapid pace of consolidation in the midstream energy industry."

Meister and Mandelblatt are also looking to join the Board.

See other recent activity from Corvex here.

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