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Feb 07, 2019

Activist investors targeted 922 companies in 2018, report highlights

More than 400 firms were outside the US

More than 900 companies were targeted with activist campaigns last year and 417 of those were outside the US, according to a new report.

The Activist Investing Annual Review 2019, produced by Activist Insight in association with Schulte Roth & Zabel, notes that 922 companies were targeted in 2018 worldwide compared with 856 in 2017.

Asia hit a record high in 2018, the report suggests, adding that 111 companies in the region were approached by activists, compared with 93 in 2017. European companies experienced 148 run-ins with activist campaigns, making it the only region to see a reduction in activist activity ­– by 6 percent – compared with 2017, the report adds.

In Canada, the number of companies subjected to activist demands reached 75 in 2018 compared with 56 in 2017.

Australia also experienced a record number of activist engagements in 2018, with 78 companies targeted, up 28 percent on 2017, the report notes, adding that nearly two thirds of those companies were nano-caps – publicly traded companies with a market capitalization below $50 mn – continuing a historical pattern. In New Zealand, just five companies were subjected to public demands.

‘As activists continue to secure board seats and strategic and operational improvements in the US, developments in European activism have accelerated,’ the report authors write.

‘Companies targeted by activists have become more likely to settle rather than risk losing a costly proxy fight. And activists have embraced M&A-related strategies to increase share prices.’