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Cevian Capital brings stake in Alent to 21.56%

Cevian Capital has the most fearsome reputation as an activist shareholder. However, unlike most of the other corporate knee-cappers, the Swedish hedge fund prefers to have a word quietly behind the scenes than do its bloodletting in public.
Cevian Capital brings stake in Alent to 21.56%

Cevian Capital has the most fearsome reputation as an activist shareholder.

However, unlike most of the other corporate knee-cappers, the Swedish hedge fund prefers to have a word quietly behind the scenes than do its bloodletting in public.

So it was with the old industrial group Cookson last year, which decided to do the splits within months of welcoming Cevian onto the register of investors.

It remains a major backer of the two firms spun out of Cookson, and its founders, Lars Forberg and Christer Gardell, are non-executive directors respectively of the businesses: Alent (LON:ALNT) and Vesuvius (LON:VSVS).

It was the buying activity ascribed to Forberg at Alent, but actually done by Cevian, that caught the eye this week.

The hedge fund bought shares worth almost £14.1mln in three tranches, bringing its shareholding of the speciality chemicals group to 21.56%.

Another director buyer this week was Lord Paul Myners, chairman of Cevian, who bought £63,000-worth of shares in RIT Capital Partners (LON:RIT), the investment trust chaired by Lord Rothschild.

It appears membership of the House of Lords is the minimum requirement at RIT, as its non-executive committee also boasts Lord Douro and Baroness Ariane de Rothschild.

Elsewhere in the world of directors' dealings, the biggest sellers of the week were members of the board of WH Smith (LON:SMWH), where directors exercised options and then offloaded stock worth over £8mln. Finance director Robert Moorhead netted more than £4.7mln from the process.

Sales seem to be far outweighing acquisitions by boardroom stock pickers.

While Deutsche Bank suspects this may be a function of a relatively lacklustre third-quarter reporting season, it also puts forward another explanation.

“For now, the European equity rally remains a multiple expansion story which, admittedly, makes it increasingly tricky to distinguish between directors’ sell trades that are fundamentally motivated and the ones that simply take the attractive opportunity to convert stocks into cash at current levels,” it observed.

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