Singer's Elliott Builds a Stake in Smith & Nephew

  • Not clear how much activist owns of artificial hip maker
  • Smith & Nephew said Monday its CEO will step down next year

Billionaire Paul Singer’s hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. has built a stake in Smith & Nephew Plc, the maker of artificial hips and knees, according to people familiar with the matter.

It’s not clear how much of London-based Smith & Nephew the activist investor owns or what it plans to push for at the company, the people said, asking not to be identified as the details aren’t public. Under U.K. disclosure rules, an investor is generally required to report a shareholding that exceeds 3 percent.

Smith & Nephew’s U.S.-listed shares rose as much as 12 percent.

A representative for Elliott declined to comment. A spokesman for Smith & Nephew said it doesn’t comment on rumor or speculation or “the identity of our investors other than those publicly disclosed.”

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Smith & Nephew said on Monday that Chief Executive Officer Olivier Bohuon will step down by the end of 2018 after seven years in the post. The company, with a market valuation of almost 12 billion pounds ($15.8 billion), has long been the target of takeover speculation. It tied for third place on a list of European acquisition targets for 2017 in a Bloomberg survey of traders, analysts and fund managers after topping the rankings for the past two years.

Singer has been one of the busiest activists in 2017, targeting the world’s biggest mining company BHP Billiton Ltd. and taking on Warren Buffett in the takeover battle for Sempra Energy, Texas’s largest electricity distributor.

— With assistance by James Paton, and Dinesh Nair

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