MeadWestvaco Corp. said it is reviewing recommendations it received Monday from a big shareholder that thinks the company is "deeply undervalued" and that it should consider selling some of its businesses.
Among the assets that could be divested are the packaging giant's North Charleston-based chemical division and real estate being developed in the region by a Summerville-based subsidiary.
The New York investment fund Starboard Value LP disclosed Monday that it has acquired about 5.6 percent of Meadwestvaco's stock.
Shares of the company hit a 52 week high during the trading session. They closed up 6 percent, or $2.38, at $42.96.
In a letter addressed to MeadWestvaco CEO John A. Luke Jr., Starboard managing member Jeffrey Smith said the company has "excessive corporate overhead" and that its value is also being hurt by a "conglomerate structure."
Starboard made several recommendations to MeadWestvaco that include: continuing with cost-cutting efforts, exploring the sale or spinoff of noncore businesses, and looking at options to extract more value from its real estate assets in South Carolina and Brazil.
The activist shareholder also suggested that MeadWestvaco repurchase about $500 million of its stock to create more shareholder value.
In a statement, the Richmond, Va.-based company said it "welcomes open communications with shareholders, values input toward our common goal of enhancing shareholder value, and will consider Starboard's suggestions as we would if received from any other shareholder."
MeadWestvaco pointed to "a number of actions that have significantly enhanced shareholder value." including cost-cutting initiatives and the sale last year of its U.S. forestlands to Plum Creek Timber Inc.
Locally, MeadWestvaco is the developer of the large-scale East Edisto and Nexton real estate projects on former timber tracts it owns or co-owns with Plum Creek.
Last year, the company's chemical division announced it's investing $9.3 million to establish an "innovation center" at its Virginia Avenue campus in North Charleston.
The Associated Press contributed to ths report.
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