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Activism continues to grow and be a force in corporate America and beyond

Shareholder activism continues to enjoy widespread credibility as an asset class unto itself and New York law firm, Olshan Frome Wolosky LLP and its Activist & Equity Investment Practice are excited to again be partnering with publisher Activist Insight, who produce the most comprehensive information source on activist investments worldwide.  

Half-Year Review 2015 shares unique insights and takeaways from the 2015 Proxy Season and looks at what lies ahead for this dynamic and vibrant space.  "By all accounts, 2015 is the year shareholder activism has cemented itself as the 'new normal' in corporate America." say Olshan partners - Steve Wolosky and Andrew Freedman.

Indeed, Olshan clients continued to make headlines in some of the most prominent activist campaigns of 2015.  Notably, Olshan advised H Partners in its successful, precedent-setting withhold campaign against Tempur Sealy, helped Marathon Partners win Board seats at Shutterfly in a contest that saw the largest negative say-on-pay vote in recent years, and led Engaged Capital's proxy fight at Rovi Corp. where the Chairman was ousted.

Already the law firm that advises on the largest number of public campaigns, Olshan says the number of campaigns it has worked on has risen 20% in 2015.

Commenting on the report, Activism Monthly editor Josh Black said, "Activism has continued to be a powerful force in corporate life in 2015. With M&A at elevated levels, new strategies are opening to activists who either feel that companies should seek a buyer, or that deals involving companies companies they are invested in undervalue their stakes."

The US continues to be the global hotspot for activism, with 216 companies subjected to public demands by activists in the first half of 2015. However, with 31 activist targets in Europe (including Vivendi, Alliance Trust, and Bilfinger Berger), 21 in Canada and 10 in Asia (e.g. Fanuc, Samsung C&T) in the past six months, activism continues to be a global phenomenon.

To date in 2015, Olshan has already advised on 46 activist campaigns, delivered 40+ nomination letters, negotiated 30 settlements, and has helped clients get board seats at 34 public companies.  

Where Starboard-Darden was the most widely-followed contest of 2014, this year it was Trian-DuPont. Trian was ultimately defeated (just barely) in its high-profile proxy contest at DuPont. For 2015, the proportion of activist demands that were at least partially satisfied is slightly higher than at the same point last year (2015 = 67%, 2014 = 65%). However, with half the demands made in the first six months of this year still yet to be resolved, there is considerable scope for that figure to change.  But the Trian-DuPont outcome is unlikely to stop activists from targeting more companies next year, however, with assets under management for funds with a dedicated focus on activism increasing to $160 billion in 2015. The total amount of money invested globally in "active" positions is around $308 billion, according to the data.

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