Another activist hedgie hovers over Morrisons

Michael Bow
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BILLIONAIRE hedge fund boss Tom Sandell has revealed a small stake in beleaguered supermarket Morrisons, the latest activist investor to pursue an investment in the struggling chain.

Sandell, who runs Sandell Asset Management, owns a tiny proportion of the firm’s shares, thought to be well below the three per cent threshold required for public disclosure.

People close to the situation yesterday said that Sandell was focused primarily on forcing through changes at another of his investments FirstGroup, instead of pursuing change at Morrison’s.

“They’re not trying to be an activist in Morrisons,” one said.

However, the presence of another activist shareholder on Morrisons shareholder register will cause further jitters at the supermarket, which is already under pressure from US activists Elliott Management to shake up the business.

Sandell, who is Swedish but operates out of New York and London, is currently pushing train and bus operator FirstGroup to sell its Greyhound intercity unit, to help reverse decline in the business and give something back to shareholders.

He disclosed his stake in Morrisons at a media briefing on Friday focusing on his campaign at FirstGroup. The train company is expected to come under further pressure from Sandell at an investor relations conference on Thursday.

Morrisons was the only one of the big four supermarkets to see a decline in sales over the Christmas period. Elliott is currently pressing the company to separate out its property assets in a bid to boost its share price.