Elliott Management Corp. has a long history of needling its opponents. Now it has baited one into a career-ending reply.
Klaus Kleinfeld resigned Monday as chief executive of Arconic Inc. amid accusations that he sent a threatening letter to the hedge fund, which was fighting to oust him and install four directors on the specialty parts maker's board.
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Public spats like the Arconic campaign are nothing new for Paul Singer's $33 billion hedge fund, which is famous for a lucrative 15-year crusade to get Argentina to pay up on its defaulted bonds. It has also launched activist campaigns against a raft of giant companies, including data-storage giant EMC Corp., energy producer Hess Corp. and software company Citrix Systems Inc.
Mr. Singer founded Elliott in 1977 and made his fortune investing in bankrupt and distressed companies and convertible bonds. The firm later branched into corporate activism, pressing companies to make changes designed to boost their stock.
Last year, when other big activists paused or were nursing losses, Elliott continued firing at even big companies. It has been particularly busy this year.
The hedge fund often targets technology companies, particularly those whose growth has slowed. In recent years, Elliott launched campaigns at BMC Software Inc., Brocade Communications Systems and Riverbed Technology Inc., to name a few.
The hedge fund has lost some fights. It dropped an attempt to disrupt Family Dollar Stores Inc.'s 2015 sale to Dollar Tree Inc. and in 2011 tried unsuccessfully to shake up the board of Swiss biotech Actelion Ltd.
Unlike other activist investors, Elliott isn't afraid to venture outside the U.S. The hedge fund is juggling a number of big campaigns around the globe, most recently calling on Australian mining giant BHP Billiton Ltd. to spin off its U.S. petroleum assets.
It is also pressing Dutch paint company Akzo Nobel NV to consider a $24 billion deal with U.S. rival PPG Industries Inc. and has launched a campaign to shake up Samsung Electronics Co., the world's largest maker of smartphones.
Elliott has touted its ability to invest around the world while avoiding traps that have ensnared other hedge funds. Its long-running Argentine quest is a case in point.
The hedge fund bought bonds issued by the South American nation at a steep discount. After Argentina defaulted in 2001, Elliott and other hedge funds fought in courts around the globe to get paid.
The fight took a bizarre turn in 2012, when Elliott persuaded authorities in Ghana to block an Argentine Navy ship from leaving its waters.
Following a big legal setback, Argentina in 2016 agreed to pay $4.65 billion to Elliott and three other hedge funds to settle their claims on the defaulted debt. Elliott got $2.4 billion, a gain of roughly 10 to 15 times its original investment.
Write to David Benoit at email@example.com
Corrections & Amplifications
This article was corrected at 1:49 p.m. ET becaise the original version incorrectly stated that Elliott Management Corp. attempted the shakeup last year in the seventh paragraph. The hedge fund tried unsuccessfully to shake up the board of Swiss biotech Actelion Ltd. in 2011.
Elliott Management Corp. tried unsuccessfully to shake up the board of Swiss biotech Actelion Ltd. in 2011. "Meet Elliott Management, the Hedge Fund That Toppled Arconic CEO Klaus Kleinfeld," at 11:11 a.m. ET, incorrectly stated that the hedge fund attempted the shakeup last year in the seventh paragraph. (April 18, 2017)
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April 18, 2017 14:02 ET (18:02 GMT)