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Match shares surge on report activist investor Elliott takes $1 billion stake

(L-R) Gary Swidler, chief financial officer of Match Group; Greg Blatt, chairman of Match Group; Sam Yagan, CEO of Match Group and co-founder and CEO of OkCupid; and Nelson Griggs, vice president of Nasdaq, pose for a photo in Times Square after celebrating Match Group’s initial public offering at the Nasdaq stock exchange in New York City on Nov. 20, 2015.

Andrew Burton | Getty Images

Shares of Tinder owner Match jumped as much as 12% during Tuesday morning trading after The Wall Street Journal reported that Elliott Management, the activist investing firm behind campaigns at Salesforce and Pinterest, had built a roughly $1 billion stake in the online dating company.

The stock pared back gains significantly, closing up 3%.

The company also owns Match.com and a host of other online dating platforms. It has struggled in recent quarters after explosive growth in the earliest days of the Covid-19 pandemic. The company had a market cap of $10 billion at the close Monday, but that pales in comparison to its more than $45 billion market cap in 2021.

Elliott is expected to engage with Match management, the Journal reported citing people familiar with the matter, but it was not clear if that engagement would include nominating its own directors.

Some Wall Street analysts remain bullish on Match. In December, the stock was named a top pick at JPMorgan, which cited a return to double-digit percentage growth in Tinder among other things. But the company reported a continued tumble in so-called Tinder payers in November when it reported third-quarter earnings. Its fourth-quarter revenue outlook also missed expectations.

It has also seen tumult in the corner office. The company has had seven CEOs since 2012. That turnover rate is markedly higher than the average CEO tenure of seven years.

A Match spokesperson declined to comment on Elliott but said Match “regularly engages with investors, and will continue to work to create great experiences for our users and value for our shareholders.”

Elliott has had great success in its campaigns. Aside from Salesforce and Pinterest, the investor has or is engaged with Crown Castle, where it successfully pushed out the wireless infrastructure company’s CEO, and at Phillips 66, where it plans to seek two board seats, CNBC previously reported.

Jesse Cohn, the Elliott managing partner who has led many of its recent engagements, has held board seats at Citrix, eBay and Twitter.

A spokesperson for Elliott Management was not immediately available for comment.

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