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Olshan Frome Wolosky’s Activist Practice Enjoys Busiest and Most Successful Proxy Season On Record

Data Shows Olshan Advised on Approximately 35% of All Successful Proxy Campaigns Nationwide During 2013 Proxy Season
August 5, 2013

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Madelaine Miller Strauss
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Olshan Frome Wolosky LLP has announced that the firm's Activist Practice enjoyed its busiest and most successful proxy season on record in 2013, spearheading approximately 35 percent of all successful proxy contests and negotiated settlements for board representation nationwide, according to data compiled by corporate governance researcher FactSet SharkRepellent.

Based on FactSet SharkRepellent’s current proxy contest data, Olshan has advised on 21 of the 74 total proxy fights waged or threatened during the 2013 proxy season, representing approximately 30 percent of all proxy fights nationwide this year.  FactSet SharkRepellent’s data further reveal that of the 38 instances of shareholders having won or negotiated board representation at U.S. public companies thus far during 2013, Olshan’s Activist Practice has advised on 13, or approximately 35%, of such successful activist campaigns.  This does not include four additional victorious activist campaigns not captured by FactSet SharkRepellent’s data criteria, bringing Olshan’s 2013 success total to 17 campaigns.  Additionally, Olshan is currently representing clients in four pending proxy contests, including Starboard Value at Office Depot and Coppersmith Capital at Alere, Inc.

Olshan’s recent activist achievements have come as shareholder activism continues to grow at an increasing rate.  According to a June New York Times DealBook article on shareholder activism, "through June 5, shareholders had either won votes to secure board seats or successfully negotiated for them in 30 instances….There have been no more than 18 such victories at the same point in any of the past three years.”  

“FactSet’s objective data is an outstanding validation of our position at the forefront of the shareholder activist market,” said Steve Wolosky, chair of Olshan’s Activist Practice.  “This confirms what our clients already know, and why Olshan’s practice is highly sought after by activist investors.  We are clearly the standout firm for proxy contests and activist engagements at public companies and enjoy a stellar track record of success in representing our clients in activist campaigns.“

Wolosky continued, “We’re also happy to report that we see no signs of this recent wave of shareholder activism letting up.  As far as activist trends, the 2013 proxy season witnessed the emergence of the ‘occasional’ or ‘first-time’ activist onto the scene, an increase in institutional support for shareholder activism, and the biggest players in the activist space continuing to pursue campaigns at larger market cap companies.  We are also extremely gratified by recent studies and papers demonstrating that activism generates long-term value for shareholders and suggesting that the clichéd, anti-shareholder views of many corporate governance pundits, including esteemed corporate lawyer and board advocate Marty Lipton, are out-of-touch with the current business climate in this new era of shareholder activism.” 

Among Olshan’s highlights during the 2013 proxy season:

  • Starboard Value’s successful proxy contest at Tessera Technologies leading to a last-minute agreement for board control. The Activist Report had the following to say about Starboard Value’s “big win” at Tessera:

“An activist winning a majority of the Board is very rare, but doing so in the face of a  recommendation by ISS for the Company’s entire slate is unprecedented.”

  • Starboard Value’s successful proxy contest at DSP Group, Inc., marking the second time in as many years that Starboard Value had successfully lobbied for board seats at the company, and successful settlements for board representation at Calgon Carbon, Quantum Corp., and Wausau Paper.
  • FrontFour Capital and Quinpario Partners reaching a deal with Ferro Corp. for two board seats. 
  • GAMCO Asset Management’s negotiated settlement for a board seat at Myers Industries.
  • Raging Capital’s successful bid for representation on Vitesse Semiconductor’s board of directors.
  • PW Partners’ successful settlement with Famous Dave’s of America resulting in Patrick Walsh’s election to the board of directors.
  • Baker Street Capital’s successful settlement with Xyratex for two board seats.

About Olshan’s Activist Practice

Olshan Frome Wolosky LLP’s Activist Practice is widely recognized as the nation's premier practice in representing activist investors in contested director elections. Activist Practice Group chair Steve Wolosky has pioneered in the area of shareholder activism. The Activist Report, a monthly newsletter by 13D Monitor, describes Steve as "...a top choice of many hedge funds and activists..." The firm has unparalleled experience in counseling clients on a wide variety of activist strategies, from proxy contests, consent solicitations and hostile takeovers to letter-writing campaigns and behind-the-scenes discussions with management and boards of directors.

About Olshan

Olshan Frome Wolosky LLP, a law firm based in New York, represents major businesses and entrepreneurs in their most significant transactions, problems and opportunities. Olshan’s clients range from public companies, hedge, venture capital, private equity and other investment funds to entrepreneurs and private companies worldwide. Clients choose Olshan for innovative strategies and sophisticated, game-changing advice in corporate, securities law and shareholder activism, complex commercial, corporate and securities litigation, real estate, intellectual property, bankruptcy and creditors’ rights, and advertising. Since its founding, Olshan has offered an alternative to the AmLaw 50 law firm business model with responsive, independent and client-focused legal counsel provided by the firm’s senior lawyers.