Activism Archive

Nov 13, 2020
Activism in a pandemic: Tampered appetites and the rise of climate activism
Companies across the US, Canada, continental Europe and the UK had something of a respite from shareholder activism this year. The Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with uncertainty over the US election, saw the number of public campaigns globally drop from 757 by the end of Q3 2019 to 652 by the end of Q3 this year. Numbers from Activist Insight show activism was down across almost all regions. In the US alone, those numbers were 412 campaigns by the end of Q3 last year a...
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Nov 10, 2020
Expect increased scrutiny at European AGMs in 2021, says Morrow Sodali
While investors were broadly supportive of companies during this year’s European AGM season, boards should expect more scrutiny in 2021 over their response to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new report from Morrow Sodali, the advisory firm. Across European markets, investors showed little change from last year in their votes on board elections and executive compensation i...
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Oct 30, 2020
The week in investor relations: Pushing back against activists and bringing back dividends
– Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s CEO, Christophe Cuvillier, expressed confidence ‘that shareholders will back plans for a controversial capital increase’, according to the Financial Times (paywall). Activists are pushing instead for an asset sale to address the company’s high debt levels.  – Royal Dutch Shell brought back its progressive dividend in a bid to win over inv...
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Oct 09, 2020
The week in investor relations: Board diversity, climate votes and stock exchanges
– Legal & General (L&G), which manages £1.2 tn ($1.6 tn) in assets, called on FTSE 100 companies to have at least one non-white director by 2022, reported the BBC. The British firm said it would vote against boards that do not meet the target. ‘We’re trying to give companies an early warning,’ said Sacha Sadan, L&G’s head of governance.  – BlackRock was criticized for supporting fewer...
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Sep 29, 2020
What’s driving activism in Japan?
Japanese firms might have expected a breather from shareholder activism in 2020. Given the devastating impact of Covid-19, businesses arguably have less room to meet activist demands on returning cash to shareholders or instigating governance reforms. Activity has not let up, however. The first half of 2020 saw a new high of 23 shareholder proposals submitted by activists, according to IR Japan, an investor relations consultancy. ‘I don’t get the sense things ar...
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Sep 07, 2020
Investors maintain pressure on UK companies over executive pay
Investors have kept up the pressure on UK companies over corporate governance issues despite the huge disruption caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, according to new research. The proportion of FTSE 350 companies receiving significant opposition (at least 20 percent) to a resolution at the AGM was 22 percent in the first half of 2020, the same level as last year, finds a report from FTI Consulting and Proxy Insight. But when you include abstentions, which are of...
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Sep 02, 2020
Australian companies warned over modest size of executive pay cuts
Australian companies are at risk of a backlash from investors over the relatively small size of executive pay cuts made during the Covid-19 outbreak, according to a new report. Given the large numbers of staff laid off or stood down during the pandemic, companies have come under pressure to ensure senior management and the board share the pain by forgoing some of their pay. But the changes announced so far appear modest and could store up problems for companies at t...
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Aug 24, 2020
‘You need the trust of management’: AVI’s activist approach in Japan
How has your firm’s approach to Japan evolved? We have been investing in Japan for two decades now. Until about 2017, we didn’t have much of an allocation but now we have invested more than £400 mn ($524 mn), which is almost 50 percent of our assets. What changed for us was the introduction of the corporate governance code in 2015, which was part of Shinzo Abe’s three-arrow policy to try to improve corporate value and increase the use ...
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Aug 07, 2020
The threat of employee shareholder activism
Boardrooms across the country are increasingly discussing human capital management issues, as investors bring subjects like diversity and inclusion, employee safety, retention and engagement into focus. With so many CEOs of US companies signing the Business Roundtable statement on stakeholder value, and Covid-19 raising legitimate concerns about employee safety, companies can expect greater scrutiny of how they treat their employees in the future. The majority of sh...
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