Driven by the momentum of a robust year in 2017, shareholder activism reached record highs in the first half of 2018.
Globally, 610 companies were subject to public activist demands, representing a 9% increase against the same measure for the first half of 2017. Of those 610 companies:
- 424 were headquartered in North America (representing 69% of the total)
- 60 in Asia (10%
- 77 in Europe (13%)
- 42 in Australia (7%)
Geographically, the United States continues to be the focal point of activist activity. However, the number of activist initiatives outside of the United States, particularly in Europe, has been on the rise with activists increasingly willing to navigate through various corporate rules and customs of other countries in search of opportunities in less-crowded markets. The first quarter of 2018 saw $7.2 billion of capital deployed in new campaigns against European companies, including $5.4 billion from U.S. activists, representing the largest aggregate investment by U.S. activists in European companies in a single quarter. The European Union's recent directives aimed at bolstering shareholder participation may encourage further activism in Europe. In addition, activism is gaining traction in Asia, a region previously considered to be impervious to activist demands. As activists advocate for improvements in capital efficiency and corporate governance in particular, a growing number of Asian companies are seeking advice on how to efficiently respond to such demands.
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