Activist Investor Ups Stake in CenturyLink

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Activist investor Corvex Management and chief Keith Meister have raised their stake in telecom company CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) to approximately 6.6%, or more than 36.5 million shares. The change was reported Thursday on a Schedule 13D filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

According to the filing, Corvex now owns 19.55 million shares of CenturyLink common stock and 17 million call options, collectively representing the firm’s 6.6% stake in CenturyLink. Because Meister controls the general partner of Corvex, he “may be considered to beneficially own [all] shares.”

Regarding the call options, here’s what Corvex wrote in its filing:

The call options referenced above include over-the-counter market American-style call options referencing an aggregate of 4,000,000 Shares, which have an exercise price of $28 per Share and expire on October 20, 2017, over-the-counter market American-style call options referencing an aggregate of 8,000,000 Shares, which have an exercise price of $30 per Share and expire on October 20, 2017, and over-the-counter market American-style call options referencing an aggregate of 5,000,000 Shares, which have an exercise price of $23 per Share and expire on January 19, 2018.

Corvex and Meister added:

The Reporting Persons [Corvex and Meister] intend to review their investment in the Issuer [CenturyLink] on a continuing basis and may from time to time and at any time in the future depending on various factors … take such actions with respect to their investments in the Issuer as they deem appropriate. These actions may include, without limitation: (i) acquiring additional Shares and/or other equity, debt, notes, other securities, or derivative or other instruments that are convertible into Shares, or are based upon or relate to the value of the Shares or the Issuer (collectively, “Securities”) in the open market or otherwise; (ii) disposing of any or all of their Securities in the open market or otherwise; (iii) engaging in any hedging or similar transactions with respect to the Securities; or (iv) proposing or considering one or more of the actions described in subsections (a) through (j) of Item 4 of Schedule 13D.

Corvex pursued changes at Pandora Media last year and the Williams Companies earlier this year that resulted in board changes at both companies.

CenturyLink stock traded down about 3.2% late Friday morning to $18.75, after posting a second consecutive 52-week low of $18.41. The 52-week high is $33.45, and the 12-month consensus price target on the stock is $26.13.