A US activist fund manager has taken a 5% stake in Saga, raising speculation of a split in the over-50s specialist’s tour operating and financial services businesses.
The shares purchase by Elliott Capital Advisors comes five weeks after Saga CEO Lance Batchelor announced that he planned to stand down following a profit warning in April.
The company has seen its shares fall from a peak of around 225p to less than 50p. Saga floated at a share price of 185p in 2014.
The activist, which reportedly oversees about $35 billion worth of assets, has become the fifth biggest shareholder in Saga.
Elliott, founded in 1977 by Paul Singer, has taken on companies ranging from AC Milan football club to Hyundai and Alliance Trust. It put pressure on Whitbread last year to accelerate its break-up, which led to the sale of Costa Coffee to Coca-Cola for £3.9 billion.
Although it did not comment, The Times reported that Elliott is understood to want the company to undertake a strategic review to consider all options for creating value, including a sale of all or parts of the business.
It is said to believe that there is “trapped value” in the company, which it considers to be a conglomerate with few synergies.
Saga launched the first of two new cruise ships, Spirit of Discovery, this month.
A Saga spokesman told The Times: “We have good and open relations with all of our shareholders and expect to be in contact with Elliott shortly.”
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