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Starboard offers to take RealD private for $12 per share

Jeff Smith, CEO and chief investment officer of Starboard Value, L.P., speaks at a panel discussion at the SALT conference in Las Vegas May 14, 2014. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

(Reuters) - Activist investor Starboard Value LP said on Wednesday it had offered to acquire the remaining shares in RealD Inc RLD.N after raising its stake in the 3D technology licensor.

Starboard offered $12 per share in cash, a premium of 29 percent to RealD stock price as of Wednesday close, valuing the company at about $540 million.

RealD said in an emailed statement that it would review the offer.

RealD's shares rose as much as 26.7 percent in extended trading.

"The time frames and capital requirements needed to support many of the company's growth initiatives appear to be well beyond what the public markets will bear," Starboard said in a letter on Wednesday to RealD's board. (http://1.usa.gov/1rMY8tq)

The activist investor said the company's near-term performance could suffer due to the "challenged" release schedule for 3D films, and it would be better positioned to take advantage of opportunities as a private company.

Starboard's offer comes at a tough time for RealD, which licenses and makes 3D technology.

The company posted a profit in the first quarter after seven straight quarters of losses, mostly due to falling demand for movies and content in 3D. Its stock has traded below its initial public offering price of $16 for more than a year.

Starboard, the third-largest shareholder in the company, also disclosed that it had raised its stake to 9.9 percent from 9.1 percent.

The activist investor said it would finance the deal through a combination of equity and debt.

Starboard recently said it had acquired a "significant" stake in Yahoo Inc YHOO.O and urged the Internet company to explore a merger with AOL Inc AOL.N and quickly "monetize" its Asian assets, which exceed the enterprise value of its actual business.

The activist investor is also pursuing a high visibility proxy battle with Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants Inc DRI.N to shake up the company's board.

As of Wednesday's close, RealD's stock had gained about 9 percent this year.

RealD was not immediately available for comment outside regular U.S. business hours.

(Reporting by Ramkumar Iyer and Anya George Tharakan in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Richard Chang and Ken Wills)