A Norfolk Southern rail terminal in Austell, Georgia, US, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023.
Elijah Nouvelage | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Business: Norfolk Southern is a railway company. It transports a variety of raw materials, intermediate products and finished goods in the United States.
Stock Market Value: $57.56B ($254.83 per share)
Norfolk Southern’s performance over the past year
Percentage Ownership: ~1.75%
Average Cost: n/a
Activist Commentary: Ancora is primarily a family wealth investment advisory firm and fund manager with $9 billion in assets under management, with an alternative asset management division that manages approximately $1.3 billion. It was founded in 2003 and hired James Chadwick in 2014 to pursue activist efforts in niche areas like banks, thrifts and closed-end funds. Ancora’s website lists “small cap activist” as part of its products and strategies, and its strategy has evolved in recent years. From 2010 to 2020, the majority of Ancora’s activism was 13D filings on micro-cap companies. In the past few years, the firm has taken a greater number of sub-5% stakes in larger companies. The alternatives team has a track record of using private and when necessary, public engagement with portfolio companies to catalyze corporate governance improvements and long-term value creation.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Feb. 1 that an investor group led by Ancora has taken a position in Norfolk Southern and plans to run a proxy fight to replace a majority of the company’s board and to replace the CEO, Alan Shaw.
Ancora is a $9 billion wealth advisory firm that has been using activism more often and has developed into an activist to be respected and feared. With an approximate $1 billion position in NSC, the firm likely has a partner who has shared in the investment and is relying on Ancora to lead the activist effort.
Norfolk Southern (NSC) is a Class I railroad operating freight trains in the United States. Railroads have been frequent targets of activist investors for many years with TCI at CSX, Pershing Square at Canadian Pacific, Mantle Ridge at CSX, TCI at Canadian National and now Ancora at Norfolk Southern. One of the reasons why railroads are so frequently targeted by activists is because they are relatively simple businesses. When they underperform their peers, it is easy to understand why and generally simple to…