Today In Hedge Fund Shareholder Activism: Pirates Get Webby and Oliver Press Gets Results

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Two unrelated hedge fund shareholder activism stories are making headlines today.
Let’s first take the story of the hedge fund reacting against a pending sale of gas and electric utility company Aquila Inc because it involves two of our favorite things: Pirate Capital and the internets. In a first for Tom Hudson’s Pirate Capital, the Jolly Rogerites yesterday launched a website dedicated to opposing the sale of Aquila to Great Plains Energy.
“A Bad Deal for Aquila, Inc. Shareholders” argues that the auction process was flawed and that Aquila is worth more Great Plains has agreed to pay. There’s not really that much to the website right now—a brief introduction, a downloadable presentation in pdf format and contact numbers. But the layout, despite its Web 1996 aspects, is at least entertaining: pirate scrolls, compass watermarks and that fog-hidden pirate ship to the left.
The wags at FT Alphaville point out this is the second time a hedge fund has set-up a website as a shareholder activist tool. They wonder how long it will be till we start seeing hedge fund’s putting up MySpace pages.
So far it’s not clear that the Pirate website is having any effect on the trasaction.
The next story is kind of the opposite: a hedge fund uses a now standard a hedge fund activists tool—the 13-D letter—and gets instant results. Oliver Press Partners filed a 13-D disclosing a 6% holding in Webmethods, and attached a letter imploring the board of the company to explore a sale. This morning the company announced plans to sell itself to a German software company. Results! (Or, you know, a reminder that post hoc, ergo hoc is not the best way of figuring out why things happen.)
Hedge fund ramps up opposition with Web site against Aquila sale [Associated Press in Boston.com]
Hedge fund activism: Pirate Capital vs Aquila [FT Alphaville]
WebMethods To Be Acquired By Software AG; Activists Were Pushing For Sale…Since Yesterday
[Tech Trader Daily]

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