Tag archives: activist engagement

Lesson Learned: An Examination of Trends in Shareholder Proposals

Shareholder proposals are often viewed as an essential tool for maintaining corporate accountability, but what role do they play in shaping corporate governance? ISS Analytics recently published a study  (the Study) that reviewed the impact of shareholder proposals on corporate governance practices among U.S. companies since 2000. The Study offers helpful insights into shifting trends in corporate governance and investor attitudes, and provides important lessons for Canadian issuers.

A brief history of shareholder proposals in the U.S.

According to the Study, after a significant surge in the number of governance proposals in the early 2000s, the number of proposals … Continue Reading

Webinar – Corporate governance, shareholder activism, and hostile M&A: Key developments in 2018 and a look ahead

Walied Soliman and Orestes Pasparakis, co-chairs of Norton Rose Fulbright’s Canadian Special Situations team, will host a 60-minute webinar on corporate governance, shareholder activism, and hostile M&A on Tuesday, February 12, 2019 at 12 p.m. EST. To sign up, please click here.

Our Special Situations team played a leading role in some of the most complex and high-profile corporate governance, shareholder activism and hostile M&A matters of 2018. The webinar will highlight some of the key trends and developments in 2018 and trends taking shape in 2019.

This will be essential viewing for directors and executives at public companies, … Continue Reading

Kingsdale Releases 2018 Proxy Season Review

Kingsdale Advisors has released its annual Proxy Season Review for 2018. The Review examines trends observed in 2018, predicts issues on the horizon, and provides advice to both issuers and activists in the marketplace.

In what follows, we pick out just a few of the important trends that emerge from Kingsdale’s analysis. The complete report can be viewed here.

Public activist activity remains healthy

Kingsdale counts 29 public proxy contests for the year to date. Though not reaching the high-water mark set in 2015 (55), the 29 public fights so far this year are up by 38%, as compared … Continue Reading

Activists knocking on the door

The Canadian Real Estate sector may be in for a shake-up. Reuters recently reported (here) that activists may be eyeing real estate investment trusts (REITs), and their approximate combined C$67 billion in market capitalization, as ripe targets for activist campaigns in light of: attractive prices, vulnerability in the market based on uncertainty surrounding the effects of interest rate shifts, and potential opportunities to unlock unrealized value.

In particular, with the Canadian REIT index down approximately 7% since August 2016, activists may ramp up efforts to target REITs for activist campaigns. Recent interest rate hikes may have … 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 the importance of preparing for an attack.

The Fight Has Gone Global

One recent development is the expansion of hedge fund activism across the globe within the past two years. Mr. Lipton suggests that activism typically associated with the American marketplace is quickly gaining traction … 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 analysis of the drivers, nature, and consequences of such settlements. The authors identified 4 main drivers of settlement agreements: (1) the activist’s stake; (2) market reaction to a SEC Schedule 13(d) filing; (3) settlements in past engagements; and (4) past firm performance.… Continue Reading

Members of Special Situations team weigh in on Canadian activism in Ethical Boardroom Magazine

Members of Norton Rose Fulbright’s Canadian Special Situations team have weighed in on shareholder activism in Canada with an article in the Spring Edition of Ethical Boardroom Magazine. The article, written by Trevor Zeyl (assisted by Joe Bricker), offers insights on shareholder activism in Canada in the past year, and some predictions for 2017 and beyond. The Spring Edition of Ethical Boardroom can be viewed here (free subscription required): https://ethicalboardroom.com/ethical-boardroom-spring-2017/.

Stay connected with Special Situations Law and subscribe to the blog today.Continue Reading

An age of shareholder empowerment

In a corporate directors survey (the Survey) entitled “The swinging pendulum: Board governance in the age of shareholder empowerment”, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) presents current trends in investor influence and their impact on governance practices of boards and management teams.

Conducted amongst 884 company directors in the summer of 2016 with respondents representing over 24 industries, the Survey highlights the increasing influence of investors and board sentiment in this “new age of shareholder empowerment”.

Board composition

When recruiting new board members, investor recommendations appear to carry increasing weight. The Survey notes that there has been an … 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 Street Journal reports that 39 companies have dealt with more than one shareholder activist over the past year – a 95% increase since 2011. Companies that are underperforming seem to be a breeding ground for multiple shareholder activist activity, but there do not seem to … Continue Reading

Our Top Five Tips for Companies and Boards in advance of the 2015 Proxy Season

As a new year begins, it is always a good time to take stock of the successes of the past year and look forward to doing even better in 2015. Shareholder activism will continue to be a “hot topic” for publicly listed issuers in 2015. Here is a checklist of our top five tips to help ensure a smooth year to come:

1.            Have an Effective Communication Strategy – Having a great corporate strategy that no one knows about will not help your business. Whatever the industry, it is important that internal and external stakeholders are regularly kept informed … 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 in light of the SEC Staff Bulletin released in June 2014.

On the date that the Paper was released, Pitt addressed the US Chamber of Commerce at a conference on corporate governance and the 2015 proxy season. As reported here, Pitt told … Continue Reading

Shareholder Activism in 2014: Half Year Review

Activist Insight recently released its half-year review.  Activist Insight, which provides market analysis and chronicles critical developments in activist investing, made the following observations regarding U.S. activist investing trends for the first half of 2014, including:

  • While the US continued to dominate public instances of activism (with 127 campaigns initiated), a significant number were waged throughout Europe, Canada and the rest of the world.
  • The average US stock held by an activist for at least two months in H1 2014 appreciated by an annualized 51.0%*, compared with 16.4% for the S&P 500.
  • The proportion of activists seeking board representation
Continue Reading

Shareholders Shaking Up Japan

A Japanese research firm suggests that there may be a record 14 shareholder proposals (all with the intention of creating higher returns) that will be made in the next few weeks as annual general meeting season begin in Tokyo and elsewhere.

Why is this surprising? In the past it has been uncommon for shareholders in Japan’s institutions to oppose company resolutions. Activists were considered ‘bad guys.’ What has changed this dynamic is the creation of the Stewardship Code (the “Code”) under the tutelage of the economically driven Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In force since May, it already has been followed … Continue Reading

Can Activist Shareholders Spur Innovation in the Technology Sector?

Activist shareholders have been accused of hindering innovation in companies they target. During a 2-3 year activist engagement in a company, activist shareholders focused on pursuing short-term goals may seek to cut costs in the target, maximize profits, then exit quickly, (possibly) with little care for the long-term prospects of the target company. In Hedge Fund Activism and Corporate Innovation (the Paper), He, Qui and Tang (the Authors) argue that is not necessarily the case, and that in fact activist shareholders can and do spur innovation, especially in the technology sector.

Innovation, the Authors explain, is a key … Continue Reading

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