Shareholder activists wise-up to national nuance

Author: Amélie Labbé | Published: 30 Sep 2016

Activist investors are getting bolder and louder. From the well-known players such as Third Point, Icahn or Cevian to the smaller market participants, the terms of engagement between shareholders and the companies they invest in are changing. 

But those targeting UK companies are increasingly aware of the need to tread more carefully than in the US.

"In the UK, we still don’t want things to become a public battle in the first instance," said panellist Michael Henson, managing director of Sard Verbinnen in London during IFLR's European M&A forum this week. 

US hedge fund Elliott Management – one of the most-profile investors responsible for dozens of campaigns against sovereigns and corporates alike – was criticised for what was perceived as its aggressive tactics against InBev’s offer for UK-based drinks company SABMiller, in which it holds a 14.6% stake.

"Proxy contests against activist shareholders are...