Activist investor Elliott takes stake in Taylor Wimpey and calls for change

US hedge fund says UK housebuilder should find new chief executive from outside the organisation

First published on Fri 10 Dec 2021 10.57 EST

The activist investor Elliott has turned its fire on the housebuilder Taylor Wimpey, asking it to find a chief executive from outside the organisation after Pete Redfern resigned from the position earlier this week.

The aggressive US hedge fund also disclosed in a letter published on Friday that it was among the top five shareholders in Britain’s third-largest housebuilder, although it did not disclose how much of a stake it holds.

A spokesperson for Taylor Wimpey said on Friday evening that it had not met Elliott and that prior to the letter had received no proposal from the hedge fund.

Taylor Wimpey announced this week that Redfern would step down as chief executive and will leave the business once a suitable candidate has been found. Reports have suggested that Redfern’s planned exit after 14 years in the role came after Elliott built a stake in the company.

“A series of operational and strategic missteps has resulted in persistent share-price underperformance, leaving [Taylor Wimpey] shareholders frustrated and lacking confidence in the company,” Elliott said in the letter.

A spokesperson for the housebuilder said: “Taylor Wimpey delivered record interim profits and increased guidance for the full year in August.

“This follows a successful and well-timed £500m equity raise in 2020 which enabled the company to invest in a total of £1.7bn of new land at a time when there was a lack of competition in the land market and prices were considerably lower than they are today. The company is set for another year of growth in 2022 and given the equity raise will deliver accelerated growth from 2023.”

Shares in the London-listed housebuilder, which lost about 15% of its value in 2020, are up 2% this year compared with the top housebuilder Barratt Developments’ rise of more than 10%.

Elliott has been ramping up its campaign for changes at a string of UK companies in recent months, including the energy firm SSE, the drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline and the pharmaceutical services group Clinigen.

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