Elliott, the hedge fund with a history of buying into companies in the process of being acquired and pushing for a higher price, took a stake of about 1.3 per cent in Alcatel-Lucent, which is being sold to Nokia.
The fund disclosed to the French stock market regulator that it had acquired the stake using equity swaps, a form of derivatives, according to the Financial Times.
Two months ago, Odey Asset Management, which is Alcatel-Lucent’s second largest shareholder, also argued Nokia’s €15.6 billion bid was too low.
However, the deal will be difficult to disrupt, since only 50 per cent of Alcatel-Lucent’s shares need to be tendered in favour of the deal, plus only Nokia shareholders have a vote on whether to back it.
Plus the leadership of both companies have talked up the overwhelming level of support for the combination, including from customers and government, as well as investors.
And the deal has regulatory approval in the US, while waiting for approval in the EU where a decision is due before the end of July. It will also need approval from Chinese regulators.
Elliott refused to comment on the motivation behind taking the stake. It is currently pursuing Vodafone in court, alleging it underpaid in its takeover of Germany’s Kabel Deutschland. The fund is also fighting an attempt by two subsidiaries of Samsung to merge.