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TheStreet Open House

[video] Quick Take: Top Closed-End Activism Plays

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- While hedge fund managers like Carl Icahn and Dan Loeb are constantly in the headlines for their activist roles, they're not the only ones who can force change upon management.

TheStreet's Gregg Greenberg is with Rajeez Das, principal of Bulldog Investors, who said closed-end fund activism works well, because the value is apparent right away. Meaning that investors know a closed-end fund's net-asset value (NAV), or how much their assets are worth.  

When the funds start to trade at a discount to its NAV, that's when Das gets interested. He said they like to accumulate a 7% to 10% stake in funds that are trading with a discount of 10% to 15%.

After he has accumulated a sizable stake, Das said they go on to approach management about the discount, although the reply can be rather mixed. 

Usually his team suggests tender offers, M&A or buybacks, but depending on the manager, talking isn't always the best solution. It can get ugly when it has to go through shareholder proposals and other means of creating change. 

Two of Das' top picks are Helios Strategic Income Fund (HSA) and Nuveen Dividend Advantage Municipal Income Fund (NVG)

The former currently trades with a 9% discount and the latter has a 14% discount. 

Coupled with HSA's yield of roughly 8% and NVG's yield of about 5%, investors should get paid handsomely to wait while the discount on the fund shrinks, creating capital return as well, he said.

Das concluded that HSA could return about 10%, plus its dividend over the next 12 months and NVG could return 7%, plus its dividend -- which isn't bad for a municipal bond fund.

-- Written by Bret Kenwell in Petoskey, Mich.

Bret Kenwell currently writes, blogs and also contributes to Robert Weinstein's Weekly Options Newsletter. Focuses on short-to-intermediate-term trading opportunities that can be exposed via options. He prefers to use debit trades on momentum setups and credit trades on support/resistance setups. He also focuses on building long-term wealth by searching for consistent, quality dividend paying companies and long-term growth companies. He considers himself the surfer, not the wave, in relation to the market and himself. He has no allegiance to either the bull side or the bear side.

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