Activist ValueAct Sells 25% of Microsoft Shares After Stock Rise

  • Investor says stock will continue to be a `top position'
  • ValueAct's Morfit plans to remain on Microsoft's board

Activist investor ValueAct Holdings LP said it sold about 25 percent of its stake in Microsoft Corp. after an increase in the stock caused its portfolio to be too heavily weighted in shares of the software maker.

ValueAct sold 18.65 million shares of Microsoft in the past few days “for portfolio management purposes," ValueAct Capital President Mason Morfit said Thursday in a statement. Morfit sits on Microsoft’s board and said he plans to continue as a director if re-elected in December. ValueAct held 75.3 million shares of Microsoft as of Sept. 3, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The stock’s gains this quarter pushed it to more than 20 percent of ValueAct’s overall portfolio, the investor said.

In April 2013, ValueAct said it had acquired a $1.9 billion stake in Microsoft and began pressuring the company for a board seat and pushing for an increased focus on business and cloud software, people familiar with the matter said at the time. Within months, Microsoft’s then-chief executive officer, Steve Ballmer, announced his retirement and ValueAct signed an agreement with Microsoft that gave it a seat on the board. Under Ballmer’s replacement, Satya Nadella, the Redmond, Washington-based company has realigned its business. Microsoft’s shares have risen 14 percent in the past three months.

“After the sale, Microsoft will continue to be one of our top positions,” Morfit said.

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