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AT&T jumps after activist investor announces $3.2B stake, pens open letter calling for restructuring

Elliot Management Corp predicted shares could reach $60 by the end of 2021 under its "Activating AT&T" plan

AT&T Inc building
In the letter, the firm pointed to a series of past strategic setbacks, headlined by its $109 billion acquisition of Time Warner in 2018

Shares of AT&T Inc (NYSE:T) surged Monday morning after activist investment firm Elliot Management Corporation announced a $3.2 billion stake in the company and publicly called for a restructuring, according to media reports. 

In a letter to the telecommunication giant’s board, the Paul Singer-led firm expressed the belief that the company’s share price could reach $60 by the end of 2021.

Investors have already started pushing it in that direction, boosting the share price as high as $38.14 on Monday before cooling slightly to end the day up 1.5% at $36.79.

“The purpose of today’s letter is to share our thoughts on how AT&T can improve its business and realize a historic increase in value for its shareholders,” Elliot said.

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The firm pointed to a series of past strategic setbacks, headlined by its $109 billion acquisition of Time Warner in 2018. 

“AT&T has yet to articulate a clear strategic rationale for why AT&T needs to own Time Warner,” the letter said. “While it is too soon to tell whether AT&T can create value with Time Warner, we remain cautious on the benefits of this combination.

That said, the firm argued in the letter that AT&T is trading at a discount. Its proposed plan, known as Activating AT&T, outlined a path to unlock latent value and deliver on growth. 

The plan is composed of four tenets: improving strategic focus, formatting its capital allocation framework, improving operations and enhancing leadership and oversight.

“By divesting non-core assets; reducing operational inefficiency; instituting capital discipline and aggressively de-levering; and enhancing leadership and oversight, AT&T can improve its business and deliver historic value creation for all stakeholders,” Elliot said.

—Updated to include closing price—

Contact Andrew Kessel at [email protected] 

Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kessel

Quick facts: AT&T Inc.

Price: $37.91

Market: NYSE
Market Cap: $277.01 billion
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