Daniel Loeb’s hedge fund Third Point LLC, known in media circles for its activist crusade to shake up Sony Corp., has bought 1.425 million shares in the Walt Disney Co., according to an SEC filing Friday.
The purchase is a tiny fraction of the media giant’s 1.81 billion outstanding shares and there was no immediate indication of any larger agenda motivating the stake, which was taken during the quarter ending March 31. Third Point had invested $115 million in Disney stock in 2013. According to a February filing for the fourth quarter, the company had no position in Disney as of the end of 2019.
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In its first-quarter letter to investors, Third Point noted that Sony had “struggled” in the period, but it made no mention of Disney.
The SEC disclosure comes at a sensitive time for Disney, which is sustaining damage from COVID-19 across its parks and resorts, studio and networks units. It also recently saw longtime CEO Bob Iger step away in February, handing the reins to Bob Chapek.
There was no further information in the filing or elsewhere on Friday. Third Point’s Disney stake was accompanied by other purchases in the media and tech sector, including shares in Charter and Amazon.
Reps for Third Point and Disney had no comment on the transaction. In the letter to shareholders, the fund wrote, “”These are deeply unsettled times, and our portfolio is designed to look through the valley of volatility and manic market sentiment. We benefit from having the ability to look across asset classes to find the best risk reward and most asymmetric returns.”
Third Point bought shares in ViacomCBS earlier this year and also recently exited a position in Fox Corp. The fund remains an investor in Sony Corp., which Loeb publicly criticized over its corporate structure and what he considered to be mismanagement of its film and TV operations.
The attacks landed him in a high-profile spat with George Clooney, who told Deadline in 2013 that Loeb was a “carpet-bagger” who had no credibility in Hollywood. Loeb, who then had a 7% stake in Sony, criticized underperforming films at the studio. “A guy from a hedge fund entity is the single least qualified person to be making these kinds of judgments, and he is dangerous to our industry,” Clooney retorted.
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