(Reuters) - Activist investor Elliott Management owns shares in Akzo Nobel NV (AKZO.AS), a person familiar with the matter said on Friday, potentially adding pressure on the Dutch paint maker to consider a sale to U.S. coatings manufacturer PPG industries Inc (PPG.N).
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier on Friday, citing sources, that Elliott had expressed concerns to Akzo Nobel’s management about not engaging with PPG and not consulting with the hedge fund.
The source asked not to be identified because Elliott’s position in the company, which is below the 3 percent stake reporting threshold in the Netherlands, is not public. Akzo Nobel and Elliott declined to comment.
While Elliott could help organize more Akzo Nobel shareholders against the company’s management, mounting a board challenge would be tricky. This is because Akzo Nobel awards a foundation, known as stichting, preferred shares which have special voting power and can be effective at fending off challenges from activist shareholders.
Akzo Nobel rejected a 21 billion euro ($22 billion) bid from larger U.S. rival PPG earlier this month and said it wanted to “unlock value” by spinning off its chemicals business, which accounts for roughly a third of sales and earnings, with a 2016 operating profit of 629 million euros on sales of 4.8 billion euros.
Akzo Nobel said PPG’s offer was also risky because cost savings were uncertain, it would lead to a highly leveraged company, and it stood a good chance of being blocked by regulators. It also said the deal would be “detrimental to the societies and economies in which Akzo Nobel operates.”
Pittsburgh-based PPG has called its proposal “attractive and comprehensive.” While it has not yet made a second offer for Akzo Nobel, it remains interested in the company, according to the sources.
Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York and Liana B. Baker in San Francisco; Editing by Bernard Orr