One of Hawaii’s last venerable Big Five companies, Alexander & Baldwin Inc., could be under pressure to break itself up.
A New York hedge fund manager known to agitate for change in his investment targets bought nearly 10 percent of A&B along with a partner, it was announced yesterday. The purchase triggered expectations the 141-year-old kamaaina company will be split into pieces to elevate stock value.
Neither A&B nor the hedge funds would disclose what the intent of the A&B stock purchase — a $168 million deal — might be yesterday.
“We expect to have a constructive dialogue with them as we do with all of our shareholders,” said Suzy Hollinger, A&B’s director of investor relations.
But stock analysts with insights to A&B and people with ties to the 2,300-employee company say the play almost certainly is a breakup of the conglomerate’s three core businesses — ocean cargo transportation, commercial real estate and agriculture.
“Are the parts worth more than the whole? That’s what this comes down to,” said local stock analyst Randy Havre, echoing views of two other analysts who closely follow A&B.
Two mainland investment firms have combined to purchase a 9.9 percent stake in Honolulu-based Alexander & Baldwin Co., according to a regulatory filing today.
New York-based Pershing Square Capital Management LP, led by activist hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, bought an 8.6 percent stake and San Francisco-based Marcato Capital Management LLC, led by Richard McGuire, acquired a 1.3 percent stake.