Two of the largest shareholders in Community Health Systems—North Tide Capital and Camber Capital Management—have sold their entire stakes in the troubled hospital company, according to regulatory filings.
The two Boston-based hedge funds have activist histories, often pushing management and operating reforms at underperforming companies where they've invested. Neither company returned phone calls for comment.
Meantime, Chinese billionaire Tianqiao Chen and his Shanda investment company remains CHS' largest shareholder with a 13.8% stake in the company, according to a regulatory filing.
Shanda's stake of 15.5 million shares is the same as it was in early October when CHS adopted a poison pill defense against an unwanted takeover attempt of the company by Chen or another investor.
Since then, Chen has assured CHS that his investment stake is strictly for passive investment purposes and he had no interest in buying the company. CHS CEO Wayne Smith said last month that its stockholder protection rights agreement would be allowed to expire April 1.
A spokesperson for Shanda was asked to comment for this story. But Shanda, which is based in Singapore, did not have time to respond, he said.
Franklin, Tenn.-based CHS, with 159 hospitals, is the nation's second-largest investor-owned hospital company.
The company has been selling hospitals and restructuring over the past year to try to stem quarterly losses and reduce a $15 billion debt load.
A CHS spokeswoman declined to comment on the filings.
Camber's stake in CHS was short-lived. The fund burst on the scene in November when its managing member, Stephen DuBois, informed the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission that Camber had increased its stake in CHS to 5.5% from 3% in June. At that point, Camber was CHS's sixth-largest institutional shareholder.
By Dec. 31, Camber had exited CHS completely, a recent SEC filing showed. DuBois had gone activist earlier in 2016. After acquiring a 14.5% in Sequenom, Camber pushed operating changes at the genetic testing company until it was sold at a premium price of $371 million to LabCorp.
North Tide was CHS' seventh-largest shareholder with 5.5 million shares when it sold out its position before year-end.
The firm, managed by Conan Laughlin, had held 6.5 million shares last March before pruning its position during the summer.
In 2014, Laughlin led a successful proxy fight for board seats at Healthways, a leading disease-management and population health company that North Tide said was underperforming.
North Tide eventually installed three board members at Healthways and saw the resignation of longtime CEO Ben Leedle Jr. in 2015. In January Healthways changed its name to Tivity Health.