WSJ: Big investors pushing Charles River ($CRL) toward the auction block

Two of Charles River Laboratories' ($CRL) biggest investors are maneuvering behind the scenes to push the big CRO onto the auction block, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Quoting sources close to the action, the Journal reports that Relational Investors, which recently moved to block the CRO's planned acquisition of WuXi PharmaTech, is taking a leading role in the effort to explore a sale with the help of the California teachers' pension fund.

Hit with declining revenue, Charles River has been taking out the budget axe to trim expenses in recent months. The CRO plays a leading role in the global animal drug testing field, with another division devoted to early-stage research work. The company operates 70 facilities around the world and has cut hundreds of positions from its workforce this year.

Chief Executive James Foster has routinely found himself contending with unhappy investors over the years. And none of them have been more restive than Relational, which is helmed by Ralph Whitworth. According to the Journal, Relational and the teachers' pension fund have topped up the number of shares they hold in the CRO in advance of a possible M&A deal.

Charles River, which has a market value close to $2 billion, is declining comment on the report.

- here's the article from the Wall Street Journal