Shareholder activism 2.0

November 2017

With the pace of shareholder activism accelerating and activists taking on more and larger targets, activist investing remains near the top of the agenda for board members and executives. Consider two examples from 2017: Procter & Gamble faced a bitter proxy fight with activist Nelson Peltz’s Trian Fund Management and General Electric, also under pressure from Trian amid lackluster performance and a falling stock price, replaced CEO Jeff Immelt and granted Trian co-founder Ed Garden a seat on its board.

On October 24, Lead Director Network (LDN) members and their general counsel (GC) guests were joined by Jim Woolery, head of King & Spalding’s mergers and acquisitions and corporate governance practice, to explore the current environment of shareholder activism and ways to avoid a proxy battle. “If you are faced with a proxy contest, you are losing. Even when you win, you don’t win,” Mr. Woolery said. “So the question is, How do you mitigate or avoid an activist attack?” This ViewPoints synthesizes that discussion. A companion ViewPoints synthesizes another discussion at the meeting related to crisis preparedness and response.