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Some investors cut Instructure stakes amid uncertain future -filings

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

BOSTON, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Instructure Inc's uncertain future, clouded by a buyout offer that a few shareholders called too cheap, prompted some investors to shrink their holdings in the U.S. educational company in the last months of 2019.

William Oberndorf, who runs Oberndorf Enterprises, slashed his stake in the Salt Lake City headquartered company by 42% to 834,942 shares at the end of 2019, according to a regulatory filing on Friday. Foxhaven Asset Management sold over 2 million shares during the last quarter, slashing its stake by 75% to 677,127 shares, its filing shows.

And Jana Partners, an activist investment firm that often pushes management for changes liked selling the company, liquidated its position. It sold 334,089 shares after having bought them in the third quarter, its filing shows.

Sachem Head Capital Management, which publicly called on Instructure to explore alternatives in late October, did not list Instructure on its so-called 13F filing for the fourth quarter.

Asset managers made their filings, showing which U.S. stocks they owned on Dec. 31, 2019, on Friday. They came as Instructure said it had accepted a higher bid from private equity firm Thoma Bravo, after some shareholders balked at an initial buyout offer.

After Sachem Head made its call to explore alternatives, it took Instructure's board less than five weeks to say it would sell itself to Thoma Bravo for $47.60 a share, accepting a bid that represented a 10% discount to the company's closing share price. But shareholders, including Oberndorf, contacted the company to express concerns.

By the middle of this week, speculation was swirling that Instructure's shareholders would vote against the deal and Thoma Bravo twice raised its bid. Instructure now plans to sell itself for $49 a share and give shareholders until Feb. 25 to vote.

Not all investors have signaled nervousness about the company. Indeed Praesidium Investment Management, Rivulet Capital and Lateef Investment Management, which had said they would vote against the deal, boosted their stakes in the last quarter. Praesidium upped its stake by 4% and Rivulet by 38% while Lateef grew its stake by 17%.

For some, Instructure's sinking stock price -- it fell nearly 10% in the last three months to close at $47.60 on Friday -- made for a chance to buy in. P. Schoenfeld Asset Management now owns 415,000 shares while Farallon Capital Management owns 620,000 shares, their filings show. (Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Tom Brown)