SAN FRANCISCO -- A key investor in Sybase( SY) is moving to put its own slate on the board of directors in an attempt to boost the company's share price.
Hedge fund Sandell Asset Management notified the company Friday it will name three independent nominees for director at the next annual meeting, which has not been scheduled.
With 5.4 million shares, or 6% of Sybase, Sandell was the second-largest investor at the end of September, behind Lord, Abbett, which owned 8 million shares, according to Thomson Financial. In October, the hedge fund's CEO, Thomas Sandell,
urged Sybase in a letter to boost its share buyback program, sell off its mobile software, or put the whole company in play.
"Since that time, the company has taken no discernable action on any of these initiatives, nor has it taken any of its own actions to improve value," said the hedge fund's statement on Friday.
"We feel that shareholder representation on the board is warranted to ensure ... a course of action is taken to close the gap between the current share price and its inherent value," Thomas Sandell said in the statement.
The stock was recently up a penny, at $25.89 Friday and is trading at 14 times 2008 earnings. Despite a 36% earnings growth for the most recent quarter, the stock has seen little appreciation over the past year. A year ago, its closing price was $24.90. Shares closed at $24.46 on Oct. 11, the day before Sandell sent his letter to Sybase.
Sandell's nominees to the board are John McFarlane, interim CEO of
; Jonathan Macey, deputy dean of the Yale Law School; and Sandell investment manager Nick Graziano.
In addition to database products, the Dublin, Calif.-based company develops software to manage integration and security issues when enterprise software is linked with mobile devices for employees, such as cell phones and handheld computers.
For the first three quarters of 2007, Sybase bought back nearly $92 million in stock.
Sandell stated in October that although Sybase's cash balance was sizable, the share repurchases did little more than use incremental cash generated by the company.
At the end of September, Sybase had $713.3 million in cash and short-term investments, according to the company. Its cash flow from operations for the full fiscal year ending in December is expected to be $210 million.
In October, CEO John Chen said the company would increase its buyback program to about $50 million per quarter.