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Factbox-Activist investor Bluebell's offensive against European giants heats up

(Reuters) - Activist hedge fund Bluebell Capital Partners shows no sign of halting its run of challenging the policies and executives of some of the world's biggest companies.

The group has taken on the likes of GSK Plc, Glencore Plc, Vivendi SE and Danone SA while owning minor stakes, as well as attempting to oust BlackRock Inc boss Larry Fink.

It is now pushing for a break-up of the German pharmaceutical and agriculture firm Bayer, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Here's what you need to know about Bluebell:

BACKGROUND

Giuseppe Bivona and Marco Taricco launched Bluebell Capital Partners in 2019, having identified shareholder activism – traditionally a predominantly North American phenomenon – as a growing opportunity in Europe.

Headquartered in London, Bluebell Capital Partners evolved from Bluebell Partners, an investment advisory business the pair had set up in 2014, according to Bluebell Capital's website.

Bivona previously worked for 18 years with investment banks Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers in London.

Taricco had over 23 years' experience with the investment banks Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan.

There are about 10 employees at Bluebell Capital Partners, according to its page on professional networking site LinkedIn.

SHAREHOLDER ACTIVISM

MEDIOBANCA

In October 2020, shareholders in Italian investment bank Mediobanca stopped an attempt by Bluebell Capital, which had criticised the management, to win seats on the bank's board.

DANONE

Bluebell pushed for management changes at France's Danone after reportedly taking a stake in the food group at the end of 2020.

Danone announced in March 2021 that chairman and CEO Emmanuel Faber would step down after pressure from Bluebell and U.S. investor Artisan Partners.

VIVENDI

Bluebell in May 2021 urged French media group Vivendi to sweeten the planned spin-off of Universal Music Group with an extra cash dividend.

SOLVAY

Bluebell in September 2021 urged Belgian chemicals company Solvay to replace CEO Ilham Kadri, saying she had failed to stop the discharge into the sea of waste from a soda ash production plant in Italy.

In September last year, Solvay announced plans to cut the discharge of waste into the sea from the Italian plant, ending their dispute.

GSK

Bluebell bought in 2021 a stake worth about 10 million euros in British pharmaceuticals group GSK and sought to shake up top management.

In October 2021, Bluebell said in an open letter to GSK Chairman Jonathan Symonds that both he and CEO Emma Walmsley should be replaced.

GLENCORE

Bluebell in November 2021 asked commodity trader Glencore to separate off its thermal coal business.

In February 2022, Bluebell proposed new structure that would allow the miner to separate its thermal coal business and still maintain control of the spin-off.

ST-GOBAIN

Bluebell in May 2022 called for shake-up at French construction materials giant St-Gobain, the Financial Times reported.

LEONARDO

Shareholders in Italy's Leonardo in May 2021 rejected a proposal by Bluebell to start liability action against the defence group's chief executive Alessandro Profumo.

RICHEMONT

Bluebell in July 2022 fired a first salvo against Swiss luxury group Richemont, calling for changes to the group's board.

Richemont urged shareholders to vote against appointing a representative of Bluebell to the company's board, citing his links to rival LVMH.

Bluebell in turn rejected claims by the Cartier jewellery maker that its candidate would not act independently.

Tensions flared after an overwhelming majority of the luxury goods enterprise's shareholders rejected Bluebell's proposal.

BLACKROCK

Bluebell in December 2022 took aim at the world's largest asset manager BlackRock , seeking replacement of longtime CEO Larry Fink, as it criticized the group as being inconsistent in its focus on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues.

BAYER AG

In January 2023, a source said Bluebell was pushing for a breakup of Bayer AG after building a stake in the German pharmaceutical and agriculture company.

(Compiled by Muhammed Husain and Anchal Rana in Bengaluru; Editing by Catherine Evans)