(Reuters) - Former Newell Brands Inc board director Martin Franklin, who teamed up with activist hedge fund Starboard Value LP to challenge the U.S. maker of Sharpie markers and Rubbermaid containers, told Reuters on Tuesday he is considering acquiring some of its assets.
Franklin could buy the Newell assets though a blank-check acquisition vehicle called J2 Acquisition Limited, which raised $1.25 billion (£0.8 billion) in an initial public share offering in London last year, he said in an interview.
“We are literally on the hunt and we will look at some of the Newell assets. I know those assets well and why shouldn’t we look at them. Our money is as green as anyone else’s,” Franklin said.
Newell said on Monday that assets sales could help bring in approximately $10 billion of after-tax proceeds. The New Jersey-based company has been seeking to overhaul itself from a hybrid holding-and-operating company to a more focused operator, with an increased emphasis on higher-margin operations such as online sales.
Newell did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Franklin’s interest.
Starboard had put forward a 12-member slate to replace Newell’s board, arguing the company had underperformed peers and mismanaged its $15.4 billion acquisition of Jarden Corp from Franklin in 2016. But on Tuesday Starboard put its proxy contest on hold following an agreement between Newell and Carl Icahn over the board’s composition.
“If we can help drive value quickly for the company, I’m sure they would welcome it,” Franklin said about his plans to review what may be for sale at Newell. “When the dust settles, we’ll have that conversation with the company and Carl,” he said, adding “I’m sure they would welcome it.”
Franklin co-founded Jarden which owned businesses spanning from Yankee Candle to Crock-Pot cookware. He founded J2, its name a nod to Jarden, with Ian Ashken and Jim Lillie. All three men were on Starboard’s slate and withdrew this morning.
“I love the (businesses) that used to be my kids,” Franklin said when asked about which Newell assets might interest him most. “If I could get some of my kids back, wouldn’t that be lovely?”
Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss in Boston; Editing by Lisa Shumaker