Turnover among top shareholders of distressed Community Health Systems has happened so dramatically over the past eight months that management could be excused if they need an introduction to the newcomers.
The new largest shareholder is Tianqiao Chen, a Chinese billionaire who made his initial fortune in online gambling.
Chen, through affiliate Shanda Media, announced last Monday that he had accumulated 11.3 million shares of CHS, or 9.9% of common shares. Then he added another 88,000 CHS shares days later to make it an even 10%.
The year started with hedge fund Glenview Capital Management as the hospital company's largest shareholder with 11.6 million shares, or 9.8%.
But Glenview and CEO Larry Robbins, which promoted the messy sale of Health Management Associates to CHS in 2014, sold its entire CHS stake in the first quarter after losing faith that HMA's 60-plus hospitals could be made to fit profitably into the larger company.
That left Boston-based Wellington Management briefly atop the shareholder list with 11.3 million shares until Chen arrived on the scene this month.
What the musical chairs among largest shareholders means for the Franklin, Tenn.-based chain is yet to be seen.
Neither Chen nor Wellington likely intend to be activist investors and demand board seats to foist operational changes on management, said Brian Tanquilut, senior vice president of healthcare equity research at Jefferies & Co. Rather, they probably saw CHS' depressed stock price as a buying opportunity.
During the time Chen and Wellington were buying big into CHS this year, the company's stock was trading for less than $20 a share. It closed Friday at $10.21 after trading a year ago for $60 a share.
Chen doesn't have a track record as an activist shareholder. And in a highly regulated industry, the Chinese national isn't likely to make waves with a power play at CHS, Tanquilut said.