The shareholder activist arena has traditionally been within the
U.S. capital markets, where a history of public and high-profile
activist campaigns has resulted in the establishment of well-known
activist players and has led to the rise of proxy advisors and
solicitors. Canada has witnessed both U.S. and domestic
players becoming increasingly involved in activist campaigns within
Canadian capital markets. In this context, the "rise of
shareholder activism" has been a relatively North American
As noted in a recent article published by the International Financial Law Review (April 9,
2014) the "rise of shareholder activism" is becoming more
prevalent in Europe, with research showing activist activity on the
continent increasing threefold from 2010 to 2012. While
European activism has been most prominent in the United Kingdom,
the increase has been attributed to the weakness of the European
capital markets generally and the poor financial performance of
strategic European institutions.
Other factors responsible for the increase activist sentiment
may be a growing shareholder base in Europe comprised of
opportunity‑seeking U.S.-based activists and institutional
investors. Such investors however may face structural
challenges in pursuing an activist agenda as a result of differing
regulatory frameworks across multiple European jurisdictions.
However, it appears that European investors, inspired by the
successes of activist campaigns from across the Atlantic, are also
leveraging their knowledge of the European regulatory framework in
seeking desired changes. The spread of shareholder activism
may not be limited to Europe however. Recently a U.S.-based
hedge fund has sought to shake up a Chilean bank through a
shareholder campaign in which it holds a minority investment.
Differences in legal and regional landscapes generally brings
both increased risk and opportunity to both strategic investors and
the companies they invest in. Cross‑border investment
activity may result in the intersection of different investing
strategies and expectations. In this climate of rising
shareholder activism, investors and companies alike should be aware
of global developments and issues in the activist space.
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