Whereas individual investors and even hedge funds have typically been passive in Europe, they are increasingly speaking up, The New York Times reports.
In the most extreme cases, they have taken executives to court, led a no-confidence vote against management or created a stir at an annual meeting. But most typically, they manage to oust executives, force the company to be sold or succeed in driving up share prices.
“What we have seen so far may only be the beginning,” said Antonio Borges, chairman of the European Corporate Governance Institute and a vice chairman at Goldman Sachs. “There are many more opportunities as there are many more underperforming companies.”
“Activist shareholders are giving more confidence to those who felt in the past that they had no say and remind managers of their duties to account for shareholders’ interest,” said David Brooks, head of mergers at accounting firm Grant Thornton.
Executives are feeling the heat. The chairman of ABN Amro told a court his company had become “a toy for hedge funds” and the CEO of the Deutsche Borse, who activists kicked out, issued a memoir detailing the experience titled “Invasion of the Locusts.”
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