U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management is revving up a public relations drive by frequently coming up with press releases ahead of a proxy war at shareholders’ meetings of Hyundai Motor and Hyundai Mobis slated for March 22.
In its latest news release on March 13, the activist fund welcomed the report issued by Glass Lewis last week, a top-tier proxy advisory company, regarding the two Hyundai companies.
The Glass Lewis report endorsed some of outside directors, which Elliott urged Hyundai Motor and Hyundai Mobis to appoint. But in fact, the report was negative about the $35 billion fund’s major requests on dividends.
Elliott has pressed the two Korean firms to dole out $6.3 billion in one-off dividends and Hyundai refused the demands, sticking to its original plan of paying less than $1 billion in combined dividends.
In other words, the Glass Lewis report mostly sided with Hyundai over Elliott. But the latter welcomed it, which observers point out seems to be a PR maneuver.
“Elliott appears to go all-out to win supports of other shareholders at the proxy standoff against Hyundai as amply demonstrated by many news releases of late,” Prof. Kim Pil-soo at Daelim University said.
“The fund is expected to further beef up its PR campaigns as the shareholders’ meetings are just a week away.”
Indeed, Elliott, which is led by billionaire investor Paul Singer, announced a total of six press releases over the past two weeks. In comparison, the number was just five throughout 2018.
“Elliott is likely to keep making press releases before the shareholders’ meetings,” said a source familiar with the issue.
Early in March, Elliott said that it holds a 2.9 percent stake in Hyundai Motor and 2.6 percent in Hyundai Mobis. Last year, the fund noted that it spent some $1 billion to purchase Hyundai shares.
Hyundai Motor is Korea’s largest automaker and its affiliate Hyundai Mobis is the country’s leading auto parts supplier. Hyundai Motor group is the No. 2 conglomerate of Asia’s fourth-largest economy.