Activist investor Elliott has disclosed a stake in Britain's Saga Plc (SAGAG.L), less than a month after the specialist tourism and insurance firm warned that discounting was taking a heavy toll on its tours business.
Saga, which is looking to find a new chief executive officer after Lance Batchelor announced his departure last month, has been trying to shake off its image as only serving "old people" and had begun rebranding after a profit warning in April.
Elliott Capital Advisors disclosed a 5.14% stake in Saga as of July 12, a filing showed on Wednesday.
Saga's shares rose as much as 8.6% on Wednesday following the news. One London-based trader said news of the stake would spur hope of a management shakeup.
Saga has already seen a series of senior level departures in the last two years, including those of its chief financial officer and chairman. A source with knowledge of the matter said no further changes were planned at present.
"We have good and open relations with all of our shareholders and expect to be in contact with Elliott shortly," a spokeswoman for Saga said.
Saga's shares, widely held by retail investors since it floated at 185 pence in 2014, have slumped 58% this year and are down 81% from their peak in 2016.
The profit warning and continued fall in Saga's market value have raised concerns about Saga's debt, which the company has been trying to trim.
In April Saga said bookings were hurt by older Britons cutting back on travel because of uncertainty over Britain's planned exit from the European Union, with profit liable to fall by as much as 75 million pounds this year.
This marked a shift for Saga, whose travel business has been propped up by spending from affluent pensioners, protecting it from a hit to consumer spending since Britain voted to leave the EU in June 2016.
To help revive its insurance business, Saga plans to offer home and automotive policies with three-year fixed pricing and cut prices for renewals. Margins at Saga's tours business have also been crimped by competitive discounting.
Elliott's move comes as top 10 U.S. activist investors step up investments in Europe.
New York-based Elliott most recently built up a position in France's Altran Technologies (ALTT.PA) in the wake of a 3.6 billion-euro ($4.03 billion) buyout bid by its bigger rival Capgemini (CAPP.PA).
With assets under management of about $35 billion, Elliott has a history of building up minority stakes in takeover targets with a view to securing an improved bid.
Since last year, the fund has acquired stakes in a number of European companies including Pernod Ricard (PERP.PA), SAP (SAPG.DE) and Telecom Italia (TLIT.MI). It also has a stake in Bayer (BAYGn.DE).
Elliott, Paul Singer's hedge fund, committed $3.4 billion in new capital in the first six months of 2019, data compiled by Lazard shows, outpacing Carl Icahn who spent $2.8 billion.