Topic: Proxy Battles

Subscribe to Proxy Battles RSS feed

Shareholder activism leads to higher rate of CEO turnover – win or lose

Shareholder activism is now a global phenomenon. Activists commonly seek to shake up the board of a target company in hopes of instilling change and increasing shareholder value. The impact on target companies can be both disruptive and enduring – often resulting in turnover among top management and in particular chief executive officers (CEOs). A … Continue reading

Defamation lawsuits as a defence to shareholder activism

Activist investors engaged in proxy fights typically mount aggressive public relations campaigns in order to undermine shareholder confidence in a target company’s performance and leadership, whether through social media, online forums or by using the more traditional PR channels. In response, target companies have turned to a number of defensive measures, many of which have … Continue reading

Alberta Securities Commission declines to exercise public interest jurisdiction to terminate soliciting dealer arrangement in proxy fight

In its recent PointNorth Capital Inc. decision, the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) was called upon to consider the appropriateness of a soliciting dealer arrangement that had been entered into by the issuer, Liquor Stores N.A. Ltd., in the context of a proxy fight. The arrangement was intended to address management’s constrained ability to solicit proxies … Continue reading

Trends and strategies for companies involved in M&A transactions

In a report entitled “M&A Activism: A Special Report”[1] (the Report), the editor-in-chief of Activist Insight describes the types of companies most at risk of being targeted by shareholder demands, providing steps that can be taken to increase the resilience of M&A transactions. The Report identifies a number of trends and findings, as summarized below: … Continue reading

Fasten your seatbelts: preparing for the globalization of hedge fund activists

Activist hedge funds have grown up and gone global, reinforcing the need for companies of all shapes and sizes to plan ahead for the possibility of an attack. A recent article by Martin Lipton in the Harvard Law School Forum of Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation reviews recent developments in the activist landscape and reconfirms … Continue reading

The drivers and consequences of settlement agreements in proxy fights

Activist interventions are being increasingly resolved by way of settlement agreements, with 3% of activist interventions in 2000 having resulted in a settlement agreement versus 16% in 2011.[1] In light of this emerging trend, the Columbia Business School recently published a paper, Dancing with Activists, in which the authors sought to provide the first systematic … Continue reading

Key takeaways from the 2016 proxy season in the US

The EY Centre for Board Matters (EYC) recently published its annual report setting out key takeaways from 2016’s proxy season in the United States. Canadian issuers should take note of the developments in the US as trends south of the border will impact the proxy landscape in Canada. Investor Communications One of the takeaways from … Continue reading

The State of Proxy Access Reforms

With the rise of shareholder activism led by what some refer to as “constructivists”, “reluctavists” or “suggestivists” (and, yet others, those who commit “extortion”), shareholders have become increasingly distrustful of leaving matters of corporate governance to management and boards. One tool that investors can rely on is exercising rights pursuant to a proxy access by-law, … Continue reading

Multiple activist campaigns on the rise as activists outnumber target companies

A corollary to the trend of rising shareholder activism is the increasing frequency with which target companies are facing multiple activist campaigns. Companies that have successfully defended activist campaigns in the past are not free to rest on their laurels – if the same issues persist, future attacks may be on the horizon. The Wall … Continue reading

Canada and France: Will legislative changes reduce hostile bids?

While the Canadian Securities Administrators’ (CSA) proposed changes to the hostile take-over bid regime have been discussed extensively in Canada, a series of similar legislative changes in France have received relatively little coverage. Although attained by different means, both changes point towards a potential shift in power from hostile bidders and activist shareholders to target … Continue reading

Demonstrated impropriety, not mere speculation, required to warrant appointment of independent chair: Ontario court

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Commercial List) recently confirmed that “demonstrated impropriety” is required to warrant court intervention in the appointment of an independent chair of a shareholders’ meeting in a proxy contest. In Meson Capital Partners, LLC v Aberdeen International Inc. (Aberdeen),[1] Norton Rose Fulbright Canada’s Special Situations Team successfully represented the Special … Continue reading

Institutional investors strongly support shareholder activism, according to new study

Institutional investors represent perhaps the most important segment of shareholders that both management and dissidents must appeal to in the course of an activist campaign. A new study of institutional investors published by FTI Consulting, Inc. (the Study), a leading US-based corporate consultancy firm, reveals interesting findings about the attitudes of such investors toward shareholder … Continue reading

US Chamber of Commerce releases practice guidance for public companies dealing with proxy battles

The US Chamber of Commerce recently released a white paper authored by Harvey Pitt, former Chairman of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  The white paper, “Public Company Initiatives in Response to the SEC Staff’s Guidance on Proxy Advisory Firms” (the Paper), provides public companies with suggested focus areas for dealing with proxy voting … Continue reading

Proxy solicitation: Not a matter of right in Alberta

The increasing prevalence of shareholder activism in Canada has significantly impacted issuers and investors alike in the Canadian capital markets. Consequently, an understanding of the Canadian regulatory landscape governing activist activities has become increasingly important for both sides of an activist struggle. A key element of this understanding is acknowledging that the regulatory landscape is … Continue reading

Corporate Governance 2014: Corporate Governance in Special Situations

Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP and Lexpert will again be co-hosting two full-day seminar sessions entitled “Corporate Governance 2014: Corporate Governance in Special Situations” on December 4th (Toronto) and December 8th  (Calgary). These seminars will include discussions on corporate governance developments in special situations, with specific focus on the trends, tools and defences used during … Continue reading

‘Wolf Packs’ and Other Recent Trends in Hedge Fund Activism

The recent increase in hedge fund activism is “hyperbolic” and should be carefully assessed, according to two notable scholars, John C. Coffee Jr. (corporate law; Columbia) and Darius Palia (corporate finance; Rutgers), who have just published on comprehensive study on hedge fund activism entitled, “The Impact of Hedge Fund Activism: Evidence and Implications.” The authors … Continue reading

ISS Updates its Proxy Voting Guidelines for the 2015 Season

On November 6, 2014, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) released updates to its Canadian proxy voting guidelines for the 2015 proxy season.  The voting guidelines are effective for meetings held on or after February 1, 2015.  The following is a summary of the most significant changes. Director Elections Director Independence: ISS has made several changes to their … Continue reading

2014 Q3 Proxy Update

The 2015 proxy season is fast approaching, PwC and Broadridge released a quarterly research report  which reviews proxy related data from 4,113 shareholder meetings held between January 1 and June 30, 2014 and  highlights several themes and trends that may inform how shareholders and companies will interact on four key issues: Director Elections: Director elections continue to attract widespread … Continue reading

Defensive Tools in Shareholder Activism: The “Voting Pill”

In today’s Financial Post,  Barbara Shecter highlighted the use of modified shareholder rights plans (colloquially known as “poison pills”) as an emerging defensive tool against opportunistic shareholder activism in Canada.  Traditionally, poison pills are used by boards of target companies as defensive tools to guard against unsolicited takeover bids.  By expanding the typical definition of … Continue reading

Enhanced Disclosure Requirements on Women in the Boardroom

The securities regulators in 7 provinces and 2 territories announced on Wednesday, October 15, 2014, that the final version of the amendments to National Instrument 58-101 Disclosure of Corporate Governance Practices (NI 58-101) and Form 58-101F1 Corporate Governance Disclosure (Form 58-101F1) would include stringent requirements pertaining to female representation on boards and in executive officer positions. … Continue reading

Golden Leashes: Is Regulatory Intervention Warranted?

In the most recent volume of the Canadian Business Law Journal, Edward M. Iacobucci, Professor with the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto, addresses certain arguments against dissident shareholders providing their director nominees with a future incentive if the target company’s share price increases following such nominee’s election to the board.1  These special … Continue reading

CSA Drops Early Warning Report Proposals

The Canadian Securities Administrators (the CSA) provided an update today on its proposed amendments to the early warning system regime. Specifically, the CSA announced that it has determined that they will not proceed with: (a) the proposal to reduce the reporting threshold from 10% to 5%; and (b) the proposal to include “equity equivalent derivatives” … Continue reading

A Changing Climate for Proxy Advisory Firms: Developments in the US and Canada

The role of proxy advisory firms in the marketplace has been a focal point on both sides of the border as recent guidance by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) highlights the powerful influence of proxy advisory firms and need for increased accountability and transparency. In the US, … Continue reading

Trends and Predictions in Canadian Proxy Contests

Kingsdale Shareholder Services has released its 2014 Proxy Season Review.  In its report, Kingsdale discusses trends observed in 2014, predictions for the future, and gives its key recommendations for companies in the Canadian marketplace.  In reviewing 2014 and comparing it to the previous year, Kingsdale observes: By the numbers – the total number of proxy … Continue reading
LexBlog