Starboard Adds Papa John's, Bristol-Myers in Rapid 2019 Start

(Bloomberg) -- Starboard Value is off to a rapid-fire start in 2019 with new investments in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Papa John’s International Inc., adding to the list of U.S. business giants targeted by Jeff Smith’s activist fund.

Smith will take over as chairman of Papa John’s after injecting $200 million into the pizza maker, the New York-based hedge fund announced Monday. Starboard has also built a position in Bristol-Myers, people familiar with the matter said on Saturday, though the size of the stake and what changes it might seek weren’t clear. Bristol-Myers has fallen about 4.8 percent since agreeing to buy Celgene Corp. last month for about $74 billion.

Starboard is also pushing for changes at EBay Inc. alongside fellow activist Elliott Management Corp., which has called for a further breakup and sale of pieces of the online marketplace just four years after its split from PayPal Holdings Inc. Starboard may push for changes at MGM Resorts International as well, people familiar with the matter have said, and is urging Dollar Tree Inc. to explore ways to unlock value, including by selling its Family Dollar business.

Smith’s fund often picks fights on multiple fronts. Last year, it targeted at least eight companies for shake-ups, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, included a proxy fight at Rubbermaid-maker Newell Brands Inc., where it was awarded board seats, and Forest City Realty Trust, which was later sold to Brookfield Asset Management.

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