Posts Tagged 'activist investors'

How to Be an Activist Investor

by Alex Davidson for The Wall Street Journal

You, too, can be an activist investor.

Just ask hedge-fund manager Eric Jackson, who started a crusade for change at YahooInc. more than seven years ago armed with only a blog post and YouTube.

“It’s never been easier for an individual shareholder to express a point of view,” says Mr. Jackson, who used social media to galvanize support for shareholder-friendly changes at Yahoo and against members of the compensation committee responsible for approving executives’ pay packages. At the time, he and his supporters collectively owned 0.2% of Yahoo’s shares outstanding.

Conventional thinking has been that ordinary individual investors, too busy with their own work and families, don’t have the time or desire to agitate for change. With the stock market in a six-year bull market and index funds proliferating, many people have, in fact, been content to sit back and be passive investors.

But some individual investors, buoyed by the belief that good corporate governance leads to improved returns, are showing a greater interest in engaging with companies on issues such as executive pay and board structure. And shareholders—even those with limited resources—have plenty of options when it comes to being heard.

So how does one go about becoming an activist?

As with any other activity or sport, there are different levels at which investors can get involved. Read more here.

Advertisements

The Boardroom Strikes Back

by Steven Davidoff Solomon for The New York Times

This year’s proxy season is turning out to be more hostile than ever, as companies fight back against hedge fund activists.

Companies typically have their annual meetings in the late spring, like the blooming of tulips, and they attract hordes of shareholder activists looking for profits. The activists will often try to elect directors, making proxy season not a reminder of the warming spring but a clarion call for the barbarians at the gate.

Last year, the activists won a series of stunning victories at Darden Restaurants, Sotheby’s and the real estate investment trust now known as Equity Commonwealth, among others. In each case, the companies refused to bow to the activist agenda, preferring instead to try to prevent the activists from electing directors. Each company lost after spending millions of dollars, wasting both money and their boards’ reputations.

The losses actually came as no surprise. In 2014, activists had a 73 percent success rate in electing directors, according to FactSet’s corporate governance database, SharkRepellent. Given the odds, many, including me, predicted that this year’s proxy season would be all about settling as companies sought to avoid these types of bloody losses. This would be the year that shareholder activists dominated completely as companies ran for cover.

We were wrong. Read more here.

The Corporate Governance Climate in 2015

by Patricia Lenkov for The Huffington Post

In the ever-changing and always dynamic world of corporate governance, it can be challenging to keep up with the trends and developments when not focused on these matters full-time. Post corporate implosions of the past 10 years and the subsequent regulatory changes and demands on continuous improvement and increased transparency in the boardroom have heightened the pace of change for boards everywhere. 2015 will surely continue this trend. Accordingly, here are some of the important issues from the world of corporate governance that should continue to make the news and be the subject of debate and speculation:

Gender Diversity

The topic of gender diversity in the boardroom (or lack thereof) has never been more focused on than at present. According to Catalyst, the U.S. based non-profit, women now hold 19.2% of all seats on S&P 500 boards (Catalyst Census). In Canada, the number is slightly better at 20.8% of seats on the S&P/TSX60 index.

2015 will undoubtedly see more push to increase the number of women board directors. Quotas in countries as varied as Norway, Australia and The United Arab Emirates are having an impact as other countries debate and question their own policies. It is generally surmised that here in the U.S., gender quotas will not materialize. Most believe that there are other ways to “move the needle.” This includes term limits, age limits and other board refreshment approaches (more on this later.) Nevertheless we have definitely moved past the question of whether more women in the boardroom leads to improved results because it has been proven time and again that it does.

Other Types of Diversity

To maximize effectiveness, the composition of a corporate board should reflect its customers, the employees of the company and even other stakeholders such as investors. Consequently, diversity in the boardroom does not start and end with gender. In fact, it is safe to say that diversity in the boardroom, at least here in the U.S., has been a focus of attention for some time. However, the context has historically been ethnic diversity. Read more here.

Activist investors actually protect the status quo

by Eleanor Bloxham for Fortune

Shareholder activism can lull us into a false sense of security and make us forget that there are bigger corporate governance fish to fry.

The annual corporate shareholder-voting season is primarily a rite of spring. Although Apple, Disney, Deere, and Hewlett-Packard have already produced their voting materials, over 70% of Fortune 100 public companies that file these documents with the SEC send out their ballot notifications in March or April.

Although most votes by shareholders are not binding, the vociferous hyperbole around shareholder activism relies on war and sports analogies—lots of “them” and “us”—which sells newspapers and belies the very notion of “investor relations.”

But does this springtime ritual have any substance, as it does in the animal kingdom when males (or females,depending on the species) put on displays of strength, mark their territory, and secure dominance over their resources? And does the process really reform wayward companies and improve public trust in business and capitalism?

Robert A.G. Monks, co-author of the book Corporate Valuation and founder of Lens Governance Advisors, told me that there is a mythology around corporate governance and that the right questions don’t seem to be addressed amid the spectacle of proxy season. Consider the issues around corporate domicile or the responsibility of firms for the costs they impose on society, he says. Read more here.

How to Defend Against Activist Investors

By Vikas Shukla, July 2nd 2013, Value Walk

Institutional investors no longer see an activist as a quick-buck investor. They see activists as smart investors, who have done plenty of research before putting significant capital to work.

Activist investors are increasingly going after large corporations. Over the past few months, we have seen many activist investors attacking the corporate governance or M&A. A few examples include Daniel Loeb’s call to split Sony Corporation (NYSE:SNE)’s entertainment business, and Carl Icahn’s resistanceto Michael Dell taking Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL) private. That has kept the company boards busy too. Recently, we featured the Harvard Law School Forum’s views on how a company can guard against shareholder activism. Continue reading…


Blog coordinator

Cefeidas Group

Archives

cgl-med-linked-in

cgl-med-linked-in
free counters