Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Loeb Builds Up 9% Passive Stake in Bausch & Lomb (BOL), May Let Others Take the Lead on Activism

In a 13G filing after the close on Bausch & Lomb Inc. (NYSE: BOL), Daniel Loeb's Third Point LLC disclosed a 9% stake (5,000,000 shares) in the company. Loeb's firm held a 1,605,000 share stake in BOL at the quarter ended 06/30/07.

Bausch & Lomb is currently in a definitive merger agreement with Warburg Pincus to be acquired for $65 per share. Rival Advanced Medical Optics Inc. (NYSE: EYE) recently withdrew its $75 per share offer for Bausch & Lomb.

The 13G filing indicates a passive stake, but Loeb is considered an activist investor.

So what does Loeb have up his sleeve for Bausch & Lomb? If Loeb had immediate intentions to rattle management he would have had to file a 13D, so the 13G indicates Loeb prefers to take a 'wait and see' approach.

One thought is that Loeb could be letting another firm take the lead. In the past, Stevie Cohen's SAC Capital filed a 13D on Bausch & Lomb. Loeb could be giving the Wall Street icon first dibs to grill management on its dumb decision to pursue a $65 deal with a private equity firm when a $75 deal was on the table. Cohen cut his stake in BOL below 5% in July and held less than 1 million shares as of July 10, 2007, but it is conceivable that Cohen is still involved with the stock given its recent pullback. Other firms could also be involved.

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