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Ashland Rises After Jana Reveals 7.4% Stake and Talks

Ashland Inc. (ASH), the biggest producer of specialty papermaking chemicals, jumped after activist investor Jana Partners LLC revealed it acquired a 7.4 percent stake in the company and has spoken to management.

Jana owned 5.81 million shares of the Covington, Kentucky- based chemical maker as of yesterday, the New York-based firm said today in a regulatory filing. Jana has spoken with Ashland management about “the business, capitalization, corporate structure, operations, strategy and future plans,” according to the filing.

The filing was released after the close of regular trading in New York, where Ashland climbed 6.6 percent to $84 at 4:52 p.m.

Jana, co-founded by Barry Rosenstein in 2001, is an event- driven fund that invests in companies undergoing changes such as mergers, spinoffs and bankruptcies. Jana has been pushing for changes at Calgary-based fertilizer producer Agrium Inc. (AGU) since May.

Jana said it expects to have more discussions with management and possibly Ashland directors, and it may take steps “to bring about changes to increase shareholder value.”

Jana bought the stake “because it believes the shares are undervalued and represent an attractive investment opportunity,” according to the filing.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jack Kaskey in Houston at jkaskey@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Casey at scasey4@bloomberg.net

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