Corporate Behemoth and U.S. Billionaire Square Off Over Metal 3D Printing

Billionaire and activist investor Paul Singer. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Billionaire and activist investor Paul Singer. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

GE shook the world of 3D printing last month when it announced a bid to acquire leading metal 3D printer manufacturers Arcam and SLM Solutions for a combined $1.4 billion. 

The acquisitions would mean that one of the world’s largest conglomerates stood to become a 3D printer manufacturer and would signal the validation of metal 3D printing technology as a viable option for the larger manufacturing industry.

That big news, however, has since been somewhat deflated, as a key player in the deal suddenly decided to obstruct the transaction. After GE’s initial announcement, the billionaire CEO of hedge fund Elliott Management Corporation, Paul Singer, increased his share of SLM to 20 percent, giving him a more aggressive position in the company. Upon obtaining this substantial stake in SLM, the hedge fund argued that GE’s offer was "not in the best interests of SLM shareholders.”

For the purchase to go through, at least 75 percent of SLM shares must be turned over to GE, which, as of Oct. 14, now owns 40 percent of the metal 3D printing firm. Therefore, with Elliott Management holding 20 percent of the 35 percent necessary for the deal to move to the next stages, the hedge fund may be a significant obstacle.

Elliott Management exerted its influence in the Arcam deal as well. In order to purchase Arcam, GE was looking for at least a 90 percent stake in the company, but Elliott Management also owns 10.14 percent of Arcam. The hedge fund’s opposition to the deal may have thus blocked that deal from taking place. As a result, shares in all three publicly traded companies (GE, Arcam and SLM) tumbled on Oct. 21.

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