Forum Home Page [see Broadridge note below]

 The Shareholder ForumTM`

Fair Investor Access

This public program was initiated in collaboration with The Conference Board Task Force on Corporate/Investor Engagement and with Thomson Reuters support of communication technologies. The Forum is providing continuing reports of the issues that concern this program's participants, as summarized  in the January 5, 2015 Forum Report of Conclusions.

"Fair Access" Home Page

"Fair Access" Program Reference


Related Projects 2012-2019

For graphed analyses of company and related industry returns, see

Returns on Corporate Capital

See also analyses of

Shareholder Support Rankings


Forum distribution:

Professional views of activist bubble and "less-than-intelligent" contestants


Source: New York Times DealBook, March 28, 2014 article

Hedge Funds | Tulane Business Forum

A Boom Now, but Hurdles Ahead for Activist Investors

By MICHAEL J. DE LA MERCED  March 28, 2014, 6:27 am

NEW ORLEANS — It’s a great time to be an activist,  but there are signs that things will get a little bumpier.

At the Tulane Corporate Law Institute here, that was the viewpoint of advisers to both hedge funds and to the companies they seek to shake up.

For now, activists are doing well, members of a panel discussion on the topic agreed. Nearly two-thirds of proxy fights are settled, with hedge funds getting at least a seat on corporate boards.

Why? In part because they have such strong support from other investors. Victor Lewkow, a partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, cited a recent article in DealBook, noting that institutional investors feel more emboldened not only in supporting activists, but also in sometimes giving them tips.

“It’s unfortunate, but if you look at shareholders lists, there’s no one there you can count on,” said Daniel Burch, the chief executive of the proxy solicitor MacKenzie Partners. “You may be starting at 30 percent against you and you don’t have anyone on your side.”

And Joele Frank, the founder of the public relations firm Joele Frank, Wilkinson, Brimmer, Katcher, added: “We used to have a 50-50 shot of winning. Until this year.”

Such is the state of activist confidence that many are now seeking majority control of a board, rather than seeking a “short slate” of a few directors.

But there were also some notes of caution, including from an adviser to activists. As activism’s popularity has grown, so have the number of new entrants into the field, many who aren’t as talented as proven winners like Carl C. Icahn or William A. Ackman.

“A lot of people coming to this space where I question their skills,” said Steve Wolosky, a partner at Olshan Frome Wolosky and a frequent adviser to activists. “I do have concern about less-than-intelligent activists.”

And much of what dissident investors have demanded in recent years — returning cash to investors through dividends or buybacks — has already been done. “Balance sheet activism” will always be around, the panelists said, but hedge funds are turning to operational activism, a more difficult task.

Coupled with the growth in activist funds, there may be fewer opportunities for those who fancy themselves the next Daniel S. Loeb.


Copyright 2014 The New York Times Company



This Forum program was open, free of charge, to anyone concerned with investor interests in the development of marketplace standards for expanded access to information for securities valuation and shareholder voting decisions. As stated in the posted Conditions of Participation, the purpose of this public Forum's program was to provide decision-makers with access to information and a free exchange of views on the issues presented in the program's Forum Summary. Each participant was expected to make independent use of information obtained through the Forum, subject to the privacy rights of other participants.  It is a Forum rule that participants will not be identified or quoted without their explicit permission.

This Forum program was initiated in 2012 in collaboration with The Conference Board and with Thomson Reuters support of communication technologies to address issues and objectives defined by participants in the 2010 "E-Meetings" program relevant to broad public interests in marketplace practices. The website is being maintained to provide continuing reports of the issues addressed in the program, as summarized in the January 5, 2015 Forum Report of Conclusions.

Inquiries about this Forum program and requests to be included in its distribution list may be addressed to

The information provided to Forum participants is intended for their private reference, and permission has not been granted for the republishing of any copyrighted material. The material presented on this web site is the responsibility of Gary Lutin, as chairman of the Shareholder Forum.

Shareholder Forum™ is a trademark owned by The Shareholder Forum, Inc., for the programs conducted since 1999 to support investor access to decision-making information. It should be noted that we have no responsibility for the services that Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc., introduced for review in the Forum's 2010 "E-Meetings" program and has since been offering with the “Shareholder Forum” name, and we have asked Broadridge to use a different name that does not suggest our support or endorsement.