Activist investors set sights on corporate Europe

Author: Lizzie Meager | Published: 31 Jul 2017

Activist investors from the US are turning their attention to European corporates as local companies learn to defend themselves.

According to Activist Insights, 97 European companies were on the receiving end of public activist demands in 2016, up from 72 in 2015. Forty-three of these were UK companies.

Chris Davis, partner at Kleinberg Kaplan Wolff & Cohen in New York, advises activist hedge funds including Elliott Management. He said that so far, outcomes for US activists in Europe have not matched the talking up of opportunities – but that could change.

"Most of the low-hanging fruit in the US and even Canada has been picked now, so it’s increasingly difficult to be an activist here," he said. "But in Europe, the fact is there’s too much fat. These companies are sclerotic."

Essentially the view is that not only are there more badly-run companies on the continent, but that European...