Hedge fund Jana Partners takes stake in Perspecta, eyes changes

BOSTON (Reuters) – Activist hedge fund Jana Partners on Thursday disclosed a new stake in Perspecta Inc (PRSP.N), which provides information technology services to government customers, and said it will speak with executives about changes that could lead to a merger or sale.

Jana, one of the industry’s most powerful activist investors, said in a regulatory filing that it owns 5.9% or 9.4 million shares, and that it will discuss “industry consolidation, capitalization, and operations” among other things with the company’s board and management team.

Jana began building the stake in the first quarter and continued buying through Thursday when the stock closed at $21.06.

The hedge fund asked the government for a delay in disclosing its Perspecta stake by requesting confidential treatment from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the position was not listed on its first quarter 13-F filing.

Jana previously invested in the sector and pushed Computer Sciences Corp to divide its government and commercial IT businesses into two companies in 2015. Perspecta was created in 2018 when DXC Technology, which traced its roots to Computer Sciences, completed a spin-merger transaction.

Over the last years, there has been considerable consolidation in the industry and interested buyers have found few available targets, industry analysts said.

For Perspecta the timing might be right to consider a deal, they said. The deal that created it just passed its two year mark which means potential tax impediments to a sale have been cleared away. Also lingering uncertainty over one large contract has been resolved after the company lost a chunk of business with the U.S. Navy.

Representatives for Jana and Perspecta did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Jana Partners, founded by Barry Rosenstein, has scored big wins including pushing for changes at Whole Foods Market that prompted the grocer to sell itself to Amazon.com.

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