A New York hedge fund that has dramatically increased its stake in Visteon Corp. in the past week wants to appoint a trustee to Visteon's board of directors.
Pardus Capital Management LP said in a regulatory filing today that Visteon management has taken its request "under advisement."
It remains unclear whether the Pardus Capital request is being viewed as hostile or friendly.
Pardus Capital, which launched a successful proxy fight this year at troubled Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp., paid about $4.1 million on Monday, Sept. 25, to buy 500,000 additional shares of Visteon. That followed the Pardus Capital purchase Friday, Sept. 22, of 1.5 million shares.
Pardus Capital now owns 18 million shares of Visteon, or 14.1 percent of the 128 million outstanding shares. Pardus Capital has purchased its entire position in Visteon this year.
In today's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Pardus Capital said it paid $109.1 million for the Visteon shares. At Visteon's Monday closing price of $8.50 a share, that stake now is worth $153.0 million.
Representatives of Visteon could not be immediately reached for comment this afternoon. Pardus Capital manager Karim Samii did not return calls for comment.
Visteon has been rumored for weeks to be in talks with Valeo SA to sell some or all of Visteon to the French parts supplier.
Visteon CEO Michael Johnston declined to comment when asked by auto analysts today about Valeo. Johnston appeared today at the JP Morgan Paris Auto Show Investor Conference in Paris.
Before the presentation, Visteon disclosed that automaker production cuts would cause its second-half sales to plunge about 10 percent from the first-half total of $5.7 billion. Ford Motor Co., Visteon's largest customer, is cutting fourth-quarter production 21 percent, while General Motors and the Chrysler group also are cutting fourth-quarter production by more than 10 percent.
Visteon generates about 48 percent of sales from Ford.
Pardus Capital has not been shy about throwing its weight around with companies it considers to be underperforming.
After purchasing more than a 10 percent stake in Bally, Pardus Capital began a successful proxy fight this year for three seats on the fitness chain's board.
In August, Pardus Capital took control of Bally after its CEO resigned. Two of the three board members from Pardus Capital then assumed the titles of interim CEO and chairman of the board.
Visteon, of Van Buren Township, Mich., ranks No. 8 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers, with estimated original-equipment parts sales of $15.88 billion in 2005.
You may e-mail David Barkholz at [email protected]