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Jan. 17, 2018, 5:54 p.m. EST

Activist investor Starboard seeks to replace entire Mellanox board

Semiconductor firm has been pressured to boost margins or explore sale

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By David Benoit

Starboard Value LP is launching a fight to remove the entire sitting board at semiconductor company Mellanox Technologies Ltd., the latest attempt by the New York activist to take over a whole boardroom.

Starboard will nominate two of its own partners, co-founders Jeffrey Smith and Peter Feld, and seven others largely from the semiconductor world, according to a letter to investors Starboard will send Wednesday. The activist took a 10.7% stake in the company last November and has pressured it to boost margins or explore a potential sale.

After the company boosted its 2018 margin targets in a public presentation last month, Starboard this month criticized the predictions as failing to be enough and still lagging peers. That has been the factor leading Starboard to seek the entire board, the letter said. The fund said it would consider adding back two current directors “to ensure a degree of continuity,” if all nine nominees are elected.

Mellanox /zigman2/quotes/209453479/delayed CA:ML +0.83%  , with a $3.3 billion market value as of Wednesday’s close, specializes in technologies for high-speed computing and is a leader in the InfiniBand systems that help power supercomputers, as well as Ethernet products. Its high-powered products are used in the giant data centers that make cloud-computing possible.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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