Elliott Advisors earnings dive as business shrank last year

ELLIOTT Advisors, the activist investor behind a boardroom assault on National Express this year, saw its pre-tax profit slump 67 per cent in 2010, accounts showed yesterday.

Elliott, the UK subsidiary of Paul Singer’s US hedge fund manager Elliott Management, said its turnover more than halved to £46.2m by the end of last year, from £124m in 2009.

The Mayfair-based company was started in 2009 and is now run by Singer’s son Gordon. Like the parent firm Singer founded in 1977, it invests in distressed or restructuring companies to unlock shareholder value.

The Companies House accounts gave little insight into the causes for the fall. The directors noted only that they “anticipate modest growth in staff numbers and the company will continue to provide services related to investment management, research and advice.”

Though it added two employees in 2010 to take its staff to 41, Elliott slashed its salary bill by almost 70 per cent in the year to £29.7m from £95.7m in 2009. Including pension contributions, it paid staff £34m, down from £108.2m in 2009.

Elliott won a truce with National Express in May after campaigning for the board to improve performance or consider selling the business. Elliott built a 17.5 per cent shareholding and called for three new directors, eventually seeing its candidate Chris Muntwyler added to the board.

It also called for board change at Swiss biotech firm Actelion, but was defeated after the company hired industry heavyweight Jean-Pierre Garnier as its next chairman.