Money manager adds to big Healthways stake

Prudential unit now owns more than 15% of disease manager facing hedge fund challenge

A unit of financial services giant Prudential added to its bet on shares of Healthways in late 2013 and now owns more than 15 percent of the local company.

Jennison Associates on Wednesday filed papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission saying that it owned almost 5.5 million shares of Franklin-based Healthways. That's up from 4.5 million shares in mid-November and just 77,000 shares at the end of September. The firm now controls 15.6 percent of Healthways, making it the largest owner ahead of hedge fund North Tide Capital, which has called for CEO Ben Leedle to step down and last month said it plans to nominate its own candidates for the company's board.

Jennison managers first stepped into Healthways in a big way after the company reported disappointing third-quarter earnings that led to a big drop in its stock. Since then, the shares (Ticker: HWAY) have rallied steadily back to where they were in October before giving up some ground in the past few weeks. At about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, they were changing hands around $13.70, down 0.5 percent on the day.