Ackman: Canada Better Than U.S. For Activists

Oct 17 2014 | 7:04am ET

Pershing Square Capital Management chief William Ackman headed north of the border yesterday to laud Canada’s welcoming environment for activist hedge funds.

Ackman said that Canada’s is “a better regime in almost every measure” for activists than the U.S. He praised the country’s “sensible approach” during a panel discussion held by the Ontario Securities Commission in Toronto.

In particular, Ackman highlighted the fact that Canadian regulators allow activists to buy up to 10% of a company before having to disclose their move, compared to just 5% in the U.S. And he also credited Canada’s regulators for routinely removing poison pills after just a short period; in the U.S., poison pills can be effectively permanent bars against activist activity.

“The U.S. is gradually migrating on some of these issues to where Canada is,” Ackman said.

Not everything is easier for activists up north. Ackman said that it can be difficult “to recruit Canadians to serve on the board in a dissident proxy contest against the incumbents on the board.”

Ackman has been active in Canada, two years ago winning a proxy contest against Canadian Pacific Railways. He is also working with Québec’s Valeant Pharmaceuticals International on its hostile takeover bid for Allergan Inc.

Ackman declined to comment directly about Canadian Pacific’s recent approach to CSX Corp. about a takeover, saying simply that the company’s CEO has said “some consolidation can meaningfully address the congestion problems.” 

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