Atlantic Power Targeted by Activist Clinton Group to Revive Sale

Atlantic Power Corp., the Boston-based owner of U.S. and Canadian power plants, is being targeted by activist Clinton Group Inc. after abandoning efforts to sell itself and replacing its chief executive officer last month.

New York-based Clinton Group today said it holds a “meaningful” stake in the company, and in a letter to the board urged Atlantic Power to revive the sale process it started when it hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Greenhill & Co. earlier this year.

Clinton Group also asked the company to add shareholders to its board to ensure that their perspective is represented. Atlantic Power has plunged 50 percent in the past year, and closed at $2.46 today in New York, giving the company a market value of $297 million.

“The board of directors should immediately charge Goldman and Greenhill to re-engage with the potential buyers and solicit the best available deal,” Joseph A. De Perio, senior portfolio manager at Clinton Group, said today in the letter.

Atlantic Power said in May it hired Goldman Sachs and Greenhill to explore a sale or joint venture, and on Sept. 16 said such a move wouldn’t be “in the best interests of the company or its stakeholders at this time.” It also named board member Ken Hartwick interim chief executive officer, as Barry Welch exited his roles as president, CEO and director.

The same day, Atlantic Power cut its annual dividend to 12 Canadian cents from 40 cents to free up more cash as it reduces debt. Reuters previously reported the letter.

Greg Taxin, president of Clinton Group and head of its activist investing effort, left the firm this month for a new venture, according to an Oct. 15 e-mail. Activist funds generally acquire equity stakes in companies and try to force corporate management and boards to make changes that boost share prices and investor returns.

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