Elliott hires Houlihan Lokey’s Sorbello to join activist team-email: Reuters

Elliott Management, the $27 billion hedge fund, has hired a Houlihan Lokey banker as part of its activist team, as the group expands its reach across a broad range of sectors.

Geoffrey Sorbello, a Houlihan director who specializes in shareholder activism, contested M&A and proxy contests, joined New York-based Elliott on Tuesday, according to an email seen by Reuters.

Elliott declined to comment. A Houlihan spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Sorbello will remain based in New York and report to Jesse Cohn, Elliott’s senior portfolio manager, according to a person familiar with the matter. Cohn has played a major role in the hedge fund’s activist campaigns in the technology sector, including via its stake in Qlik Technologies, which prompted the data analytics company to put itself up for sale.

Elliott’s hiring of Sorbello, who previously worked at proxy solicitation firm Okapi Partners and proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), shows how the hedge fund is seeking to strengthen its activist strategy, which comprises a relatively small portion of the massive hedge fund’s market activity.

While the bulk of Elliott’s activism has focused on the tech space lately, Elliott has broadened its reach across multiple sectors, including oil and gas, retail and other industries.

Ares Capital Corp agreed to buy smaller rival American Capital Ltd on May 23 for $3.4 billion, after Elliott took a large stake in ACAS and pushed it to ditch a spin-out plan and instead explore a sale. The current auction of outdoor retailer Cabela’s was the result of an Elliott campaign.

Elliott’s three largest equity holdings are data storage company EMC Corp, which is in the process of being bought by Dell Inc, oil company Hess Corp and aluminum maker Alcoa Inc, according to a quarterly filing.

Elliott is among the largest and most active hedge funds in the activist arena – part of a growing crowd of investors pushing for leadership and strategy changes across Corporate America. Last year saw more than 500 activist campaigns, the most ever recorded, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The wash of campaigns has led to several high profile moves among activist advisers in the last few years, including where advisers moved to investment banks tasked with defending dissident investors, or, as in Sorbello’s case, advisers moving to an internal role at an activist.