Third Point’s Loeb slams activists after UK fund chairman quits

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FILE PHOTO: Loeb, founder of Third Point LLC, participates in a panel discussion during the Skybridge Alternatives Conference in Las Vegas

LONDON – Hedge fund Third Point’s boss Dan Loeb on Thursday blamed the departure of the chairman of the firm’s London-listed fund on “inexperienced” and “juvenile antics” of activist investors.

Third Point Investors Limited (TPIL), a closed-ended fund managed by Third Point, has been under fire from Asset Value Investors (AVI) and three other shareholders who collectively own more than 10% of the voting rights in the fund and say it is underperforming.

Steve Bates, a former JPMorgan banker who has been the chairman of TPIL for three years, announced his resignation on Thursday, saying he had “recently been put in a position where it is impossible for me to continue as a director of TPIL”.

TPIL said in a statement that Bates had suffered personal threats at one of the meetings the board had arranged with representatives of AVI and separately with Staude Capital, another of the activists. TPIL did not say who made the threats.

Loeb said Bates’ departure was a “loss for all shareholders” and “the behavior by these so-called ‘activists’ is a stain on institutional investors who attempt to engage constructively with boards and management teams…These juvenile antics smack of desperation and inexperience.”

AVI said in a statement that it had supported the appointment of Bates, and that it was “unfortunate that he has now chosen to resign”.

AVI added that it was “disappointing to see the continued misleading narratives being put out under the Board’s name”.

Staude Capital did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Third Point is itself an activist investor, taking stakes in companies and seeking changes in order to boost their share price. It recently took a stake in Shell, calling for a break-up of the oil major.

(Reporting by Carolyn Cohn;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)