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Whitworth’s Firm Discloses 3.5% Stake in B/E Aerospace

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May 15 (Bloomberg) -- Ralph Whitworth, the activist investor who co-founded Relational Investors LLC, disclosed that his money-management firm acquired a 3.5 percent stake in B/E Aerospace Inc., the maker of jet seats that is considering putting itself up for sale.

Relational Investors added 3.65 million B/E Aerospace shares in the quarter ended March 31, according to a regulatory filing today by the San Diego-based firm with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Relational, co-founded by Whitworth and David Batchelder, didn’t report holding any B/E Aerospace shares as of Dec. 31.

B/E Aerospace surprised analysts by announcing on May 4 that the company had hired financial and legal advisers to consider a sale. As recently as April, the Wellington, Florida-based manufacturer said it was considering making two acquisitions of its own.

Relational’s Whitworth and Amin Khoury, the chairman and chief executive officer of B/E, didn’t immediately return return telephone calls seeking comment.

Relational’s stake in B/E had a market value of $316.8 million as of March 31, according to the SEC filing. B/E shares have jumped almost 10 percent this month, helping to push the value of Relational’s holdings to about $352 million, assuming the number of shares held hasn’t changed.

Institutional money managers who oversee more than $100 million of equity-related securities traded on U.S. exchanges must file a Form 13F within 45 days of the end of each quarter. The form discloses their holdings in stocks, options and convertible bonds on the last day of each quarter.

To contact the reporter on this story: Miles Weiss in Washington at mweiss@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christian Baumgaertel at cbaumgaertel@bloomberg.net Sree Vidya Bhaktavatsalam, Josh Friedman