Acacia Research taps Starboard SPAC executive as M&A chief

2 mins read

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

BOSTON – Acquisition platform Acacia Research Corp, backed by activist fund Starboard Value and a recent bidder for retailer Kohl’s Corp, appointed one of the hedge fund’s senior executives on Tuesday to oversee all aspects of its takeover business.

The firm, which acquires businesses in sectors including technology, retail, and healthcare, appointed Martin McNulty Jr. as its chief operating officer and head of mergers and acquisitions, Acacia Chief Executive Officer Clifford Press told Reuters.

   The appointment comes after global merger and acquisition activity set new records last year. But the pace of takeovers may be dampened by rising financing costs, expectations of greater regulatory scrutiny mount and as geopolitical unrest unnerves investors.

Acacia also promoted Wesley Golby, its chief of research, to chief investment officer. Golby previously co-founded investment firm Seven Canyons Advisors. The appointments are effective immediately.

McNulty, who goes by MJ, had been CEO of Starboard’s special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC), Starboard Value Acquisition Corp, which combined with data center Cyxtera Technologies Inc last year. The deal valued the company at $3.4 billion. 

    “Adding MJ to our leadership team completes the build out of our core acquisition platform,” Press said, adding that McNulty’s skills in making operational improvements “will now be applied to current and prospective portfolio companies.”

Acacia agreed with Starboard two years ago that the hedge fund would provide as much as $400 million in capital for strategic investments and acquisitions.

In late January, Acacia offered to buy Kohl’s for $64 a share, making an offer that would have valued the retailer at roughly $9 billion. Kohl’s rejected this and another initial offer from private equity firm Sycamore Partners.

    Acacia, which declined to comment on Kohl’s, remains in active discussions with the retailer’s banker as it runs a sales process, according to sources familiar with the matter.  

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Rashmi Aich)