European boards wise up as activism spreads

Author: Tom Young | Published: 18 Nov 2015

European boards are finally prioritising the implementation of defence plans against activist investors as volumes look set to break records.

But counsel are recommending their corporate clients take a proactive, considered approach to defence, rather than US-style proxy measures.

The concern is borne out of a growing number of activists in the region coupled with attractively-priced corporates sitting on large cash piles, according to research released by Linklaters last month.

Data from the firm shows $314 billion of activist hedge fund assets under management in 2015 until October, up from 2014’s total figure of $302 billion. IFLR reported in October that US activist tactics were beginning to penetrate Europe and the spread of target companies is wider than the banking focus of previous years. This year’s data shows proportionate activity across technology, banking, industrial and services.

"I think there is more money being invested. Conditions are ripe for...