Hedge fund Third Point becomes largest Baxter holder, wants to be involved in picking new CEO

Industrials Associated Press

Hedge fund Third Point has become the biggest shareholder in Baxter International and wants to help choose the medical products maker's next CEO.

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Third Point said Wednesday it met with Baxter CEO Robert Parkinson and other members of management and discussed the idea of nominating two Third Point-backed directors to seats on the board of directors. It said Baxter was willing to consider the idea.

The Deerfield, Illinois company confirmed it has had talks with Third Point, but didn't comment on any issues that were discussed.

Baxter Chairman and CEO Robert Parkinson said July 29 that the board has started looking for a new CEO. Parkinson, 64, has been the company's chief executive for 11 years, and he said the company has not determined a time frame for hiring a new CEO.

Third Point praised the company for announcing a succession plan and also complimented its recent spinoff of Baxalta, its former bleeding-disorder drug business.

Third Point says it owns 37.9 million shares of Baxter, giving it a 7-percent stake in the company. According to FactSet that would make it Baxter's largest shareholder. The New York hedge fund said it owns a 10-percent stake if stock equivalents are included and valued its investment in the company at $2 billion.

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Shares of Baxter International Inc. rose $1.82, or 4.5 percent, to $42.13. Earlier the stock reached an all-time high of $43.44.

Third Point's biggest investments include biotech drugmaker Amgen Inc., Botox maker Allergan PLC, and Dow Chemical Co. Third Point started a proxy fight with Dow in 2014 as it pushed the company to split its specialty chemical and petrochemical businesses. The company agreed to put four Third-Point backed directors on its board. It hasn't split off the two businesses, but it said it would cut some jobs, break off some of its chlorine business, and sell its AgroFresh unit.