Smith & Nephew plc (SNN) shares surged to a record high in early Wednesday trading on reports that activist investor Elliott Management Corp. was building a stake in the medical equipment maker.
Smith & Nephew shares were marked 3.56% higher in the first minutes of trading in London, changing hands at an all-time high of 1,408 pence and giving the company a market value of £12.254 billion ($16.15 billion).
Paul Singer's Elliott is said to have started building a stake in the maker of artificial hips and knees, Bloomberg first reported on Tuesday after the London market closed, with Smith & Nephew's New York listing rising as much as 14% after the report before closing 4.62% higher at $37.81 each.
Elliott's stake is thought to be less than 3% as under U.K. disclosure rules an investor is required to report when a shareholding exceeds 3% and no such disclosure had been made as of Wednesday morning.
It is unclear what the activist investor plans to push for at the company, unnamed sources told Bloomberg.
Smith & Nephew has long been a rumored takeover target, with both Stryker Corp. (SYK - Get Report) and Johnson & Johnson Inc. (JNJ - Get Report) seen as having interest. The London-based company has been focusing on building scale in fast-growing product or service areas such as sports medicine, advanced wound bioactives and robotic-assisted orthopedic surgery, as well as amassing emerging markets exposure.
London-based Smith & Nephew said Monday that its CEO Olivier Bohuon will retire by the end of 2018. Bouhon, a six-year veteran of Smith & Nephew, worked at GlaxoSmithKline before joining the company. During his tenure, he survived a bout with cancer, and he faced a bit of shareholder unrest in 2016 over executive pay and bonuses.
Elliott has been busy in Europe this year. The activist investor called a three-month truce with Dutch chemicals company Akzo Nobel (AKZOY) after a months-long battle over a $31.9 billion takeover approach.
Elliott built a 9.5% stake in Akzo, becoming its biggest shareholder. Elliott had called for Akzo to reconsider the takeover approach by PPG Industries PPG and also tried to oust the chairman after talks failed.
BHP Billiton (BHP) has also been a target of Elliott, after building a 5% in the FTSE 100-listed miner. Elliott has called for BHP to scrap its dual listing structure by abolishing its British company. BHP bowed to the shareholder pressure saying it will sell its loss-making U.S. shale oil and gas business.
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