Atticus’s D Börse stake nears 9%

Atticus, the US hedge fund that has been one of the most vocal opponents of Deutsche Börse’s takeover attempts, has seen its stake in the German stock exchange operator rise to nearly 9 per cent, following a recalculation of its various holdings in the group.

The fund owned 8.97 per cent of voting rights in Deutsche Börse, the exchange operator said in a statement on Thursday. The fund owned a 6.16 per cent stake at the beginning of 2006.

Atticus declined to comment. People close to the matter said the increase was due to a recalculation of all the funds holdings in Deutsche Börse, includings financial instruments such as swaps and options, that had led to the rise. It had not bought new shares in Deutsche Börse, according to market sources.

Atticus has been a thorn in the side to Deutsche Börse’s aggressive expansion plans in recent years. The fund was one of the main investors who blocked Deutsche Börse’s attempt to buy the London Stock Exchange in 2005, which led to the deparure of Werner Seifert, then Deutsche Börse’s chief executive.

The fund last month supported Euronext’s merger with NYSE Group, at the expense of Deutsche Börse’s rival bid. Atticus held significant stakes in both Euronext and the German exchange.

When Deutsche Börse withdrew its interest in Euronext in November, Timothy Barakett, chief executive of Atticus, said the exchange had “many attractive opportunities, the best of which is focusing on their own business.”

He also urged the Börse to focus on launching new products, moving to emerging markets and returning capital to shareholders through share buybacks.

Atticus Capital is based in New York and has more than $13.5bn of assets under management. Mr Barakett founded the fund in 1995, at the age of 26, and the chairman and chief executive is estimated to have earned about $200m in 2005.

It has grown to become one of the most vocal activist hedge funds in recent years. In February last year, Mr Barakett told Guy Dolle, chief executive of Arcelor, that Atticus’ would consider legal action if Arcelor did not meet with Mittal Steel, which had launched a bid for Arcelor. Mittal later bought Arcelor in a €27bn deal.

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