The campaign comes after a substantial minority of investors expressed their concern with the optical networking components maker's CEO late last year. Engaged Capital LLC and Voce Capital Management LLC, launched the effort Monday with a securities filing listing at least three categories of concerns they have with the company's operations. The two activists own roughly 6.2% of Freemont, Calif.-based Oplink.
In November, Oplink CEO Joseph Liu received the backing of roughly 9.4 million shares, while 6.3 million withheld their votes for him in an uncontested election. The large withheld vote of roughly 40% was a substantial and rare expression of no-confidence.
People familiar with the activist funds contend that they believe the vote was more of a verdict on the company's strategy and corporate governance rather than anything against the CEO personally.
The insurgents are seeking to communicate their concerns with the company's management and are not prepared to launch a proxy contest, they added.
Nevertheless, observers familiar with the situation also note that both funds have launched proxy contests when companies have been reluctant to take some key actions and that they are keeping an eye on the expected filing deadline for submitting a dissident slate of directors at Oplink. That deadline could come as early as August if Oplink plans to hold its annual meeting in November as it did in 2013.