At 28 Percent Stake, Combined Shareholders 'Not Takeover People,' USA Truck CFO Says

by Marty Cook  on Wednesday, May. 7, 2014 3:15 pm  

Cliff Beckham

The CFO of USA Truck Inc. of Van Buren said Wednesday that a pair of hedge funds combining forces to represent 28 percent of the trucking firm's shares does not a pose another takeover threat.

Cliff Beckham told Arkansas Business that USA Truck and its board members have held discussions with representatives of Stone House Capital of New York City and Baker Street Capital of Los Angeles in the last few months.

He said that neither company, either individually or as a group, has a candidate up for election for the board of directors at the USA Truck’s shareholders’ meeting May 23.

"We have very similar discussions with shareholders every day," Beckham said. "Our relations have been very amicable."

On Tuesday, the two hedge funds announced they teamed to form "United Shareholders for the Benefit of USAK." Together, the pair control 28 percent of USA Truck stock (Nasdaq: USAK). Stone House holds 1,550,000 shares (14.7 percent) and Baker Street owns 1.4 million (13.3 percent).

In an SEC filling, the pair said the decision to form United Shareholders was made after USA Truck terminated its Shareholders Rights Plan, a so-called "poison pill" that kicked in when one group or individual acquired 15 percent of the company’s shares.

United Shareholders said it formed "for the purpose of engaging in discussions with the management and the Board regarding the composition of the Board, the Issuer’s operating results and available opportunities to enhance stockholder value."

Beckham said USA Truck executives don’t see this move as a step in a possible takeover bid.

"They’re not takeover people," Beckham said of Stone House and Baker Street. "They’re hedge funds that are interested in returns. I think they just want a more significant voice in advising us how to proceed in the turnaround."

USA Truck has been working to turn the company around amid a series of quarterly losses. In the middle of a slate of management changes, the firm was confronted last year with a takeover attempt by rival trucking firm Knight Transportation of Phoenix. USA Truck fended off the takeover bid earlier this year.

That bid resulted in a lawsuit and an out-of-court settlement in which Knight agreed to make no moves or purchase any USA Truck stock until September.

More: USA Truck issues a statement on Stone House and Baker Street.



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