As has been widely reported, there are currently two nominees to fill the two empty slots at the SEC—from the Democratic side, Robert Jackson, a professor at Columbia Law School, and from the Republican side, Hester Peirce, a fellow at George Mason University. However, Senator Tammy Baldwin had put a “hold” on the nominees back in November, as reported in the WSJ, until they provided “their views on whether regulators should rein in activist investors, stock buybacks and executive pay.” Now that they have both responded to her questions, Baldwin has lifted her hold on the nominees, according to Law360, “clearing a hurdle for confirmation.” Their responses, although not exactly surprising, provide some insight into their views on these key issues.
Studies show hedge fund activists have adverse impact on board diversity and target more firms with women CEOs
While more and more institutional holders and asset managers are noisily promoting board diversity among their portfolio companies (see this PubCo post)—including, most recently, the NYC Comptroller and the NYC pension funds (see this PubCo post)—hedge fund activists (fka corporate raiders, now styling themselves as “activists”), seem to take quite a different tack. Two recent studies have looked at the impact of hedge fund activism on diversity from different perspectives: one study showed that hedge fund activists have an adverse effect on board diversity at companies they attack and another study showed that female CEOs are significantly more likely than male CEOs to come under threat from hedge fund activists.
by Cydney Posner An interesting topic of discussion at a meeting last week of the SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee was “unequal voting rights of common stock” — the trend over the last decade (plus) for a small number of IPO companies, particularly tech companies, to offer low-vote or, more recently, no-vote […]
by Cydney Posner As discussed in this PubCo post and this PubCo post, in March, Nasdaq resubmitted to the SEC a proposal requiring listed companies to disclose third-party compensation of directors in connection with their candidacy for or service on company boards. These “golden leash” arrangements are most common in connection […]
by Cydney Posner To date, for the most part, when it comes to shareholder activism, the heavy lifting has been done by hedge fund activists. Now, as discussed in this NYT DealBook column, institutional shareholders may be stepping out on their own.
Senate bill introduced to reform 13D reporting by closing “loophole” exploited by activist hedge funds
by Cydney Posner Soon after the Wausau Paper Company was targeted by a hedge fund activist in 2011, Wausau’s paper mill in Brokaw, Wisconsin was shuttered by the embattled company. The mill had been established at the end of the 19th century and, since its founding, had provided employment for […]
by Cydney Posner On March 15, Nasdaq resubmitted its “golden leash” disclosure proposal to the SEC. As discussed in this Pubco post, the proposal, which originally was rejected on technical grounds, relates to third-party compensation of directors in connection with their candidacy for or service on company boards. These “golden leash” […]
by Cydney Posner According to data collected by Reuters, companies are settling with hedge fund activists “at the fastest pace since the financial crisis. The average number of days it takes companies to reach a settlement with activists threatening a proxy contest from the time of disclosure is 56, according […]
by Cydney Posner The WSJ reports that the SEC is investigating whether some hedge fund activists formed 13D “groups” but failed to make appropriate disclosure of their alliances. Under Rule 13d-5, when two or more persons agree to act together for the purpose of acquiring, holding, voting or disposing of […]
by Cydney Posner It is widely recognized that one of the primary causes of the current stock buyback phenomenon has been pressure from hedge fund activists. But, as suggested in this NYT DealBook column, the activist playbook is certainly not limited to buybacks and dividends: “[a]s activist hedge funds take […]