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Activist Ancora may turn to a reliable tactic to enhance value at Norfolk Southern

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A Norfolk Southern rail terminal in Austell, Georgia, US, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023.

Elijah Nouvelage | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Company: Norfolk Southern (NSC)

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)

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Norfolk Southern’s performance over the past year

Activist: Ancora Advisors

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.

What’s happening

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.

Behind the scenes

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