Activist hedge fund Starboard Value LP has a more-than-8% stake in Huntsman Corp. HUN 4.31% and plans to agitate for change at the chemicals producer, according to people familiar with the matter.
Huntsman has a market value of roughly $6.3 billion, making Starboard’s stake worth around $500 million or more.
Huntsman, based in The Woodlands, Texas, makes chemicals for a variety of uses including plastics, cars and construction materials.
The exact changes Starboard intends to push for to improve its stock performance couldn’t be learned. Huntsman’s shares are little changed since the company’s 2005 initial public offering, closing Monday at $28.07 versus $24.50 on their first day of trading.
Huntsman in 2019 sold two of its units in a $2.1 billion deal that separated out one of its slowest-growing businesses and gave it cash to expand its core polyurethane operation. Chief Executive Peter Huntsman, the son of the company’s founder, said at the time that the company was seeking to focus more on its downstream and specialty businesses, which it saw as more reliable cash generators.
On the company’s second-quarter earnings call in July, Mr. Huntsman said the company expects its results in the second half of the year to be stronger than the first and that demand in many businesses had returned to pre-pandemic levels.
When asked by an analyst if the company would consider offloading assets, Mr. Huntsman indicated it is open-minded, adding it wasn’t actively selling anything.
Huntsman is set to detail its strategy at an investor day Nov. 9.
The company was founded in 1982 by Jon M. Huntsman Sr. , who was known for his charitable giving and for creating the clamshell hamburger package, and who died in 2018.
Starboard, led by CEO Jeff Smith, is one of the most visible activist investors. It holds seats on the boards of companies including Papa John’s International Inc. and NortonLifeLock Inc.
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Appeared in the September 28, 2021, print edition as ‘Starboard Takes Big Stake in Huntsman.’