Activist news for Apr. 26. Feel free to offer feedback on ideas you’d like to see.

Major? Alert – Again, the Quarterly Activist Newsletter drops in a couple weeks. Hit me up with 1-2 new activist funds to include … hit reply or drop me a note.

Stake changes

  • After Canadian Pacific dropped its bid for Norfolk Southern, Bill Ackman in a surprise move decided to dump 30% of its long-time stake. It’s been activist since 2011. It now owns 6.4% of the train co.
  • Cornwall Capital is yet another activist to join the Hill International fight. They own 5.6% with no plans. But other activists, including Bulldog Investors, have been pushing for a sale.
  • Starboard Value reveals a new activist target, Infoblox. They own 7.1%, with no plans.

News

  • Datawatch Corporation settles with activist Potrero Capital. The fund has a 5.5% stake and will appoint Charles Gillman to the board.
  • Ultratech is pushing back against Neuberger Berman’s board nominees, says both its candidates are lacking the sector experience the company feels is necessary to serve on its board. They own 7.55%.
  • Guidance Software and activist Shawn McCreight settle, where Christopher Poole and Shawn McCreight will resign from the board.
  • Pershing Square Capital giving up one of its board seats at Zoetis – William Doyle stepping down.
  • ValueAct Capital has hired David Boies as its attorney – getting serious about contesting a U.S. government lawsuit. Boies has represented high-profile clients Al Gore, George Steinbrenner, and Steven Cohen. The Justice Department is suing ValueAct alleging it didn’t properly disclose certain holdings related the Baker Hughes merger.
  • Ferro Corp. shareholder FrontFour Capital plans to vote against the incumbent directors up for election at the April 28 meeting. They want Ferro to explore “strategic alternatives,” like a sale.
  • Benchmark Electronics Files Updated Investor Presentation [link]

Catalyst watchlist

  • Freeport-McMoRan, Carl Icahn target, could be up for another round of asset sales.

 

 

Bill Ackman

Stories

  • Warren Buffett’s Former Heir-Apparent Resurfaces as Activist Investor [link] A former heir apparent to billionaire investor Warren Buffett has resurfaced in an unusual role—as an activist agitating for the sale of a small Virginia bank. David Sokol, once widely expected to succeed Mr. Buffett as chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., has kept a fairly low profile since leaving the conglomerate amid a stock-trading controversy five years ago. In recent weeks, though, Mr. Sokol has aggressively and publicly pushed Middleburg Financial Corp. to put itself up for sale. The former Berkshire executive has been invested in the bank for nearly eight years and holds 30% of its stock. Last week, he wrote the bank’s directors and said he believes Middleburg “has more value as part of a larger bank” and urged it to explore a sale.

Other good reads

  • Valeant Gets More Default Notices After 10-K Filing Delay [link]

Read up on shareholder activism

The Proven Framework for Finding the Best Value Investments [link]