DETROIT -- What does Bruce Kovner know about Visteon Corp.?
The billionaire commodities trader and hedge fund chief quietly has become the fourth largest shareholder in the giant auto parts maker after acquiring 6.8 million shares, or a 5 percent stake.
An SEC filing by Kovner's Caxton Corp. last month does not indicate the date or price of the transaction. It also does not say whether Caxton plans to be an activist shareholder.
Visteon CEO Michael Johnston expressed no concern over Caxton's stake during a recent interview.
"I think it represents an investor who sees a good value," Johnston said.
Johnston said he has not spoken with Kovner.
Big investors in troubled companies often take an active management role to maximize the value of their shares.
Hedge funds are private investment partnerships favored by wealthy investors and large institutions such as pension funds. Their investors accept a higher risk because hedge funds seek better returns than more conventional investments.
Visteon's largest shareholder is Brandes Investment Partners & Co. at 16.5 million shares, followed by Donald Smith & Co., 13 million shares, and Dimensional Fund Advisors, 7.3 million.
Caxton's investment "is a little unusual in the mix of our large institutional shareholders," Johnston says. "But there are usually one or two hedge funds that come in and out of the stock."
The 52-week trading price of Visteon has ranged from $3.14 to $10.91. It closed at $9.78 on Friday, Sept. 30.
Caxton, of Princeton, N.J., has been a strong performer in the currencies and commodities sector, say industry officials. But it's not clear if Caxton has a track record in the auto industry.
Kovner, 60, does not grant interviews, "never, ever, ever," says a spokeswoman.
A conservative activist, Kovner graduated from Harvard College in 1966, drove a cab in New York and studied harpsichord at The Julliard School before setting up Caxton in 1983, according to Fortune magazine.
According to Institutional Investor magazine, Caxton posted an investment return after fees of 31 percent in 2001, and Kovner made an estimated $500 million personally that year.
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