Review and Analysis of 2019 U.S. Shareholder Activism

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP - November 6, 2019
Read More

Key Themes

  • Board seats obtained per announced campaign remain at elevated levels, as activists on average obtained 0.7 board seats per 2019 campaign (a 35% increase from 2017)
  • Despite the recent focus in shareholder discourse on “purpose” and maximizing value for all stakeholders, institutional investors appear to give activists a pass on ESP topics
  • Active managers are increasingly adopting activist tactics, highlighted by Neuberger Berman’s proxy contest at Verint Systems
  • Activists are focused on M&A in record numbers, either by agitating for sales or divestitures or by intervening to break up previously announced transactions
  • Almost 50% of issuers that added activist designees to their boards in 2017 or 2018 have since either sold themselves or engaged in a meaningful divesture
  • Activists continue to hone in on issuers without a permanent CEO or with impending CEO retirements, evidenced by several prominent 2019 campaigns