The week in investor relations: Warning over Tesla tweets, meat substitutes boost record IPO and ‘wolf packs’ of activists on the prowl
– The SEC told Tesla last year that tweets by CEO Elon Musk had ‘twice violated a court-ordered policy requiring his tweets to be pre-approved by company lawyers,’ according to an article by the Wall Street Journal (paywall). In 2018 Tesla settled an enforcement action with the securities regulator after Musk tweeted about potentially taking the company private. As part of the settlement, Musk ‘agreed to have his public statements on social media overseen by Tesla lawyers,’ noted the WSJ.
– Philippine food business Monde Nissin conducted the country’s largest ever IPO, raising 48.6 bn pesos ($1 bn), reported Reuters. The listing, which was covered around six times, offered investors the chance to get more exposure to the meat substitutes industry. Monde owns the Quorn brand, which offers meat-free products and delivered 22 percent of the group’s net sales last year. There will be ‘explosive growth’ in the protein market, said Monde’s chief strategy officer David Nicol.
– Activist investors are showing greater interest in UK companies, according to the Independent. A report from Alvarez & Marsal, the management consulting firm, said 59 UK companies have ‘been identified as likely to face a campaign from activist investors in the near future,’ according to the article. The report also noted that European companies are at higher risk from ‘wolf pack’ activist tactics where more than one investment firm is involved.
– US President Joe Biden signed an executive order that will prevent Americans from investing in Chinese companies with suspected links to the Chinese government, noted the Financial Times (paywall). The order affects 59 companies, many of which are prominent corporate names, such as Huawei, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation and China Telecom. A US official said Biden’s order will have ‘stronger legal footing’ than a similar order made by former president Donald Trump last year.
– Activist fund Engine No 1 took a third board seat at US energy giant ExxonMobil, adding to the two it had already won, reported CNBC. The fund, which owns just 0.02 percent of Exxon, is pushing the company to adapt to a low-carbon future. The results are preliminary, said Reuters, as counting continues. ‘We are grateful for shareholders’ careful consideration of our nominees and are excited that these three individuals will be working with the full board to help better position ExxonMobil for the long-term benefit of all shareholders,’ said Engine No 1 in a statement.
– UK travel companies saw a slump in value following the decision of the UK government to remove Portugal from its ‘green list’ of countries, according to the Guardian. The move means holiday-makers returning from Portugal will need to go into quarantine for 10 days. Shares in airlines easyJet, Ryanair and AIG, along with travel firm TUI, fell at least 4.5 percent. Rolls-Royce, which makes aircraft engines, and InterContinental Hotels also slid. The six stocks collectively shed more than £2 bn ($2.8 bn) in value, noted the article.