SEOUL (Reuters) - U.S. activist hedge fund Elliott continued its public campaign against the proposed $8 billion merger of two Samsung Group companies on Friday, questioning the basis for the projected financial performance of the combined entity.
Elliott, Samsung C&T Corp’s third-largest shareholder with a 7.1 percent stake, published a 15-page presentation on a website laying out its case against Cheil Industries Inc’s all-stock takeover offer, reiterating its opposition to the deal.
“We find it significantly more troubling that, to date, no supporting analysis has been provided to substantiate the aggressive targets: sales of 60 trillion won ($54 billion) and operating profits of 4 trillion won by 2020,” Elliott said in a statement.
In response, Samsung C&T said Elliott made no new arguments and that the fund is trying to “distract investors” from C&T’s struggles amid a prolonged downturn for the construction industry.
Samsung Group and Elliott have been competing to secure support from C&T investors ahead of a July 17 shareholder vote on the proposed merger, which investors and analysts say is critical to cementing the leadership transfer of the founder Lee family that controls South Korea’s top conglomerate.
In a rare case of shareholder activism in South Korea, Elliott launched a public campaign against the deal in early June and has filed two injunction requests with a local court to block it. The fund argues that the offer is too low and has called on other C&T shareholders to reject Cheil’s offer.
In response, Samsung C&T has published its own material defending the merits of the deal. The builder argues that the merger will help the company overcome weak outlook for the construction industry and provide better returns for investors in the long run.
“Samsung C&T carefully evaluated Cheil’s proposed merger, and strongly believes the transaction is clearly in the best interests of the company and our shareholders,” the construction company said in a statement on Friday.
Reporting by Se Young Lee; Editing by Tony Munroe and Michael Perry