Margarethe Wiersema
U.C. Irvine



(Tuesday, 24th May 2022)

Title : Corporate Governance: the impact of activist investors on boards and CEOs

Deploying more than $40 billion in capital globally and initiating more than 180 campaigns against publicly traded companies in 2020, activist hedge fund represent “the activist” in the capital market and are having a significant influence on corporate governance and strategy and even the ownership of companies. Activist investors have created a renewed struggle between shareholders and managers with their demands to improve shareholder value. What started as a US phenomenon is now global with campaigns against GSK, Danone, Nestle, and Toshiba in 2021. Activist investors have forced divestitures, gained board representation, and can lead to a company being put up for sale. The recent campaign against ExxonMobil by activist investor Engine No. 1, indicates that even with just a 0.02% stake, they were able to succeed by securing the support of institutional investors. Activists represent a relatively new capital market constituent that is driving unprecedented change in firms’ strategy and governance as well as changing the relationship that companies have with their shareholders.