FILE PHOTO - A cup of espresso is pictured on a table at a branch of Costa Coffee near Manchester, Britain May 5, 2017. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Activist Elliott now largest shareholder in Whitbread

A unit of U.S. activist hedge fund Elliott Management said it now held the largest stake in Whitbread Plc , making it the second activist in recent months to draw attention to Britain's biggest hotel and coffee-shop operator.

Elliott Advisors now has over a 6 percent stake in FTSE 100-listed Whitbread, the hedge fund said in a statement on Saturday. It did not mention the reason for increasing its stake.

The disclosure came nearly three months after Reuters reported that another activist investor, Sachem Head, wanted Whitbread's management to examine a breakup as a way to boost the value of its individual businesses. The Sachem Head hedge fund holds a 3.38 percent stake in Whitbread, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon data.

Investors and analysts have long raised the idea that Whitbread should spin off its popular Costa coffee-shop chain.

The company has become more streamlined in the past few years, selling off its brewing business and some pubs to focus mainly on Premier Inn, Costa, the Beefeater restaurant brand and the Brewers Fayre pub restaurant chain.

Whitbread declined to comment on Elliott's disclosure. The company's shares are down nearly 5 percent in the past 12 months.

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