Juniper Networks’ generosity to employees hasn’t gone over well with activist investor Elliot Management. The hedge fund is pressing for a better a deal for investors, in part at the expense of its workers. In an effort to pump up its share price, Elliot wants Juniper to cut costs by $200 million a year, streamline its portfolio of products and return up to $3.5 billion in cash to shareholders through buybacks and dividends. That cost-cutting would come from what Elliot considers extravagant spending on research and development and salaries. Juniper paid the top salaries to software engineers ($159,990 in base pay), according to Glassdoor. LinkedIn came in second, at $136,427, followed by Yahoo ($130,312), Google ($127,143) and Twitter ($124,863). In a presentation to investors, the hedge fund said:
- As percentage of revenue, average R&D spending at peer companies is 11 percent compared with Juniper’s 21 percent.
- The peer average for R&D dollars spent per R&D employee is $181, while Juniper spends $229.
The hedge fund owns a 6.2 percent stake in the company and believes its share price should be up to $40, rather than around $25.25 as it was Tuesday. In October, Juniper announced plans to cut 280 jobs – 3 percent of its workforce. Its board is also reportedly in the final phases of its search for a new CEO – incumbent CEO Kevin Johnson has announced plans to leave. The new CEO could have different thoughts on how well the company pays its staff.