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Compuware Points To Progress In Response To Shareholder Sellout Demand

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Compuware Building houses Hot Sam's Quality Clothes (Credit, Michael Ferro)

DETROIT (WWJ) – Compuware Corp. Friday tried to reassure its shareholders that it’s continuing to find ways to boost the company’s share price, a day after a Wall Street hedge fund urged Compuware management to sell the company — or parts of it, including its downtown Detroit headquarters.

Starboard Value LP made the demand in a letter to Compuware management Thursday. Starboard disclosed that it owns a 5 percent stake in the company.

“While either outcome would be acceptable to us, we believe the company has been in strategic limbo for far too long,” Jeffrey C. Smith, Starboard’s managing member, wrote in a letter to Compuware’s management. “It is time for Compuware to either sell itself now for an acceptable premium or execute and expand upon its previously announced standalone value creation plan.”

In a statement to shareholders Friday, Compuware management said it’s making real progress in implementing a cost-cutting plan it announced last January, when faced with a buyout offer from another Wall Street hedge fund, Elliott Management.

In the statement, CEO Bob Paul said: “Over the past few weeks we have been engaging in a dialogue with our major shareholders about enhancing our board. We have identified a number of excellent independent director candidates and will be finalizing our slate in the coming weeks. We continue to be firmly committed to enhancing our competitive position by delivering business critical technology solutions to our customers and creating shareholder value as we have done over the past year as we pursued our clearly articulated transformation initiatives.”

Compuware announced it would extend the deadline for submitting nominees for election to its board to Jan. 10, rather than the previous deadline of Friday. Compuware said it still intends to hold its 2013 annual meeting in the first quarter of 2014.

Compuware pointed out that it posted net income 40 percent higher than last year in its most recent quarter, and posted double-digit revenue and software license growth in its application performance management business.

It also said it had made “significant progress towards stabilizing the mainframe business,” its legacy software business, and completed an initial public stock offering of its Covisint secure business collaboration subsidiary.

Compuware said it is on track to eliminate $40 million to $45 million in costs this fiscal year with the assistance of consultants Alix Partners, part of a two year plan to cut general and administrative and shared services expenses by $80 million to $100 million.

And, Compuware added, it is now paying a stock dividend of 50 cents per share a year.

“The current board, along with management, has been successfully executing the transformation process we started earlier this year. We are excited about the opportunities available to Compuware and its shareholders as we pursue our focused plan of action,” Paul said in the statement.

And as for Starboard’s letter, Paul said: “The significant and measurable steps already taken and being implemented by Compuware to create shareholder value, and our constructive dialogue with our shareholders, speak for themselves.”

Starboard urged Compuware to put itself up for sale — or take other measures, including a sale and leaseback of its downtown Detroit headquarers, a bigger stock repurchase plan, selling parts of the company it views as “noncore” including the Changepoint project management software, and Uniface mainframe application development software.

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