Glenn Welling’s Engaged Capital and Jonathan Litt’s Land & Buildings are planning to raise capital from investors to take positions in healthy companies that have seen their stock battered by the coronavirus-induced market rout.
Engaged seeks to add as much as $250 million in fresh money to its $1.1 billion assets under management while Land & Buildings will set up a new vehicle that will accept however much money clients are ready to commit, people familiar with the matters told Reuters.
The two investors have different strategies as to their potential targets. While Engaged aims to up its current positions and maybe snap up new names, Land & Buildings wants to capture fresh opportunities stemming from the historic market sell-off.
Litt’s fund will host a conference call on Wednesday to discuss these plans, the sources said. The activist will focus on companies with strong balance sheets that are trading at large discounts and own valuable assets like data centers, warehouses, and lab spaces.
Engaged’s most recent investment and one of its largest, nutrition company Medifast has lost 40% in value so far this year but enjoyed a respite Tuesday when it climbed 17%. In December, news surfaced that the activist was considering taking Medifast private. Other significant positions held by Engaged are organic products maker Hain Celestial Group and Rent-A-Center, the latter plunging by 50% over the past three months.
Aside from potentially providing new investment opportunities, the COVID-19 crisis also made Land & Buildings pull its board campaign at American Homes 4 Rent. However, the activist warned that it may return next year as it remained “troubled” by the firm’s corporate governance issues and poor dealmaking. American Homes shares lost a fifth in value since the start of the year.
The recent market crash also put companies in defense mode, worried that activists and hostile bidders might buy shares opportunistically. It happened at Occidental, which adopted a poison pill after Carl Icahn took its stake from 2.5% to 10% earlier this month. Fourteen companies have adopted poison pills so far this year, compared with 18 in the whole of 2019 and 15 in 2018, according to Activist Insight Governance.