Scopia boosts stake in Verra Mobility after company adds another activist to board

BOSTON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Hedge fund Scopia Capital Management on Thursday said it now owns a bigger stake in Verra Mobility Corp (VRRM.O) and plans to keep close tabs on the technology company's strategy only weeks after it handed a board seat to another activist investor.

New York-based Scopia, already one of Verra Mobility's 10 largest investors, said it increased its ownership to 5%, or 7.8 million shares, from 4.4%, in a regulatory filing.

Scopia said it plans to talk to the board and management about ways to boost Verra Mobility's share price but stopped short of making any specific recommendations. In the future, however, the filing said, the hedge fund could suggest changes in strategy, including calling for a sale of the company.

A representative for Verra Mobility, which provides technology solutions to governments and school districts to make mobility safer and easier, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Mesa, Arizona-based company is valued at $2.5 billion and its stock price has gained 15% in the last 52 weeks.

Scopia had $2.6 billion in assets under management at the end of 2020, according to a regulatory filing made in 2021.

The words in Scopia's filing echo language used by Inclusive Capital Partners, the investment firm founded by Jeffrey Ubben who cemented his reputation as a collaborative activist while running ValueAct Capital for two decades, last year.

Inclusive, which had $1.3 billion in assets at the end of 2020, began buying its 6.7% stake in Verra Mobility in August and by the end of December one of the firm's partners, Sarah Farrell, was given a board seat.

As activists hunt for targets, it has become more common for several to invest in the same company. Recently, Starboard Value took a position in Mercury Systems (MRCY.O) where Jana Partners is already pushing for change.

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Bernard Orr

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.