Whether it’s the ease by which investors can call shareholder meetings or Canada’s “very sensible” rules on poison-pills, Bill Ackman believes that Canada is the superior environment for activists than the United States. The billionaire, while speaking at an Ontario Securities Commission event in Toronto said, “It’s a better regime in almost every measure.”
His remarks referred to the fact that regulators often remove poison pills after a short period. Ackman is also a fan of being able to build a 10% stake in a company prior to the need for disclosure compared to the 5% threshold in the United States.
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“The U.S. is gradually migrating on some of these issues to where Canada is,” Bill Ackman said.
Canadian Pacific Railway and CSX Corp.
Bill Ackman and Pershing Square Capital Management LP are certainly familiar with the Canadian landscape after calling for the replacement of Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (NYSE:CP) (TSE:CP)’s CEO in a hard-fought proxy fight. Bill Ackman battled for Hunter Harrison to be named CEO in 2012 and shares have, according to Bloomberg data, are now worth four times the price that Ackman paid he began building his stake in September 2011.
In a possible move towards railway consolidation, Canadian Pacific has approached CSX Corporation (NYSE:CSX) according to sources close to the matter. At the event, Ackman chose not to comment on the CSX bid directly but did say that he agreed with CEO Hunter Harrison’s belief that consolidation was needed in the rail industry when speaking with reporters after the panel.
“I would point to what Hunter has said publicly is we have serious infrastructure issues in North America and that in his view some consolidation can meaningfully address the congestion problems in areas like Chicago and otherwise,” said Bill Ackman .
If past performance by Ackman is any measure of the future, it’s likely that another bid for CSX Corporation (NYSE:CSX). is likely, or Ackman could simply go hostile.
Bill Ackman is not alone in Canada
Ackman is not the only activist who has looked to Canada for spoils. Daniel Loeb’s Third Point has built a stake (with other hedge funds) in pipeline operator TransCanada Corporation (NYSE:TRP) (TSE:TRP) who believe a breakup would be beneficial. Carl Icahn, was granted two board seats on Talisman Energy Inc., the Calgary-based oil-and-gas company after amassing a stake in October 2013.
Despite favoring the activist environment in Canada, Bill Ackman is not resting on his laurels in the United States. In a speech just three days ago at Euronext Amsterdam, Ackman told those in attendance that he was targeting a “decent-sized stake” in another U.S. company. Ackman is of course still waging battles with Herbalife Ltd., and Allergan Inc. amongst others in the United States.