Glenview, Soros and Hayman Raise Penney’s Stakes

Glenview Capital Management now holds a 9.1 percent stake in the retailer, making it the largest institutional stakeholder of Penney’s stock.

Shares of J.C. Penney Co. Inc. rose 1.9 percent Tuesday, to $12.72, after two institutional investors upped their stakes in Penney’s.

This story first appeared in the September 4, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

According to regulatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, New York City-based Glenview Capital Management said it now holds a 9.1 percent stake in Penney’s, or 20.1 million shares. That makes Glenview the largest institutional stakeholder of Penney’s stock.

Close behind is George Soros of Soros Fund Management. Soros, also at 9.1 percent, holds 19.98 million shares.

Also upping its stake in Penney’s is J. Kyle Bass’ Hayman Capital Management, which has taken a 5.2 percent holding, or 11.4 million shares, in the retailer. Bass, who founded the Dallas-based hedge fund, made his name betting against subprime mortgage bonds before the housing crash.

Ahead of Hayman in the top holders’ list is Richard Perry’s Perry Corp., which on Friday disclosed that its stake in Penney’s was increased to 8.6 percent, or 19 million shares, from 7.3 percent.

The investor, who is chairman of Barneys New York and designer Lisa Perry’s husband, is known for betting on distressed companies and began building his Penney’s stake in July. While Perry had sided with former Penney’s board member William Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management in seeking a permanent chief executive officer for the retailer to succeed Myron “Mike” Ullman 3rd, some financial sources said his overall view is more aligned with Soros’ long-term vision of the merits of Penney’s as an investment.

The share acquisitions of Perry and Bass were made shortly after Ackman sold off Pershing’s entire 39.1 million share, or 17.7 percent stake, in Penney’s.

Last month, Ackman and Penney’s board were involved in a directors’ conflict in which Ackman sought the ouster of board chairman Thomas Engibous and the acceleration of a ceo search to replace Ullman.

Ackman lost that fight when Penney’s board members decided they were in full support of the efforts of both Engibous and Ullman, and he in turn resigned from Penney’s board.