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Hedge-fund chief gains seat on Sara Lee board

Chicago Tribune – The leader of an activist hedge fund with a significant stake in Sara Lee Corp. has been added to the foodmaker’s board of directors.

Downers Grove-based Sara Lee said Thursday that it is expanding its 10-member board by one, naming Jeffrey Ubben, founder and chief executive of ValueAct Capital, to the new spot. Last winter, San Francisco-based ValueAct bought a 5 percent stake in Sara Lee, maker of bread, hot dogs and meat products sold under such brands as Hillshire Farms and Jimmy Dean.

Activist investors often buy into what they perceive as undervalued companies and then urge significant changes. But ValueAct is considered less strident than some other activist funds, saying at the time of its purchase that it had no plans to push for strategic change at Sara Lee and was comfortable with the firm’s direction.

Neither Sara Lee, which is in the midst of a multiyear turnaround effort, nor ValueAct could be reached.

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