Ancora Gets Its Engagement Together
Crain's Cleveland Business (04/21/19) Nobile, Jeremy
A record 935 public companies were engaged by investors globally last year, up from 609 in 2013. For Ancora Advisors, the strategy is fueled by increased levels of capital being put to work. "We have gone up the food chain because we have more assets to deploy," said Ancora Chairman and CEO Fred DiSanto. "And we're looking at names where clearly there has been some egregious intermingling of both board and management teams." Ancora, part of an investor group that owns 5% of Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (BBBY), and fellow investors have been pressuring the retailer to replace its 12-person board, and the firm offered up 16 candidates for those board seats. "We just took a position and said we are going to be aggressive," DiSanto said. Meanwhile, the firm has sent a letter to J. Alexander's Holdings Inc. (JAX), where it has an 8.6% stake, offering to take the restaurant company private by acquiring it for $11.75 per share in cash, or $186 million. This marks the first time Ancora has pursued a public-to-private deal. DiSanto said, "Here's a company with a very good brand and good restaurants. They just need to be private." Meanwhile, Jim Chadwick, Ancora's director of alternative investments, noted, "In situations where there is a lack of cooperation from either management or the board, yet Ancora remains convinced that the stock is meaningfully undervalued based on unlocking potential catalyst events, then we would be taking a public-activist posture. We almost always start out constructive, and it's only when things break down we end up in filings."
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