Law360 Quotes Andrew Freedman on the Trends to Expect in Shareholder Activism in 2018

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Corporate Partner and Co-Head of Olshan’s Activist & Equity Investment Group Andrew Freedman was quoted recently in a Law360 article (subscription required) outlining the trends expected in shareholder activism in 2018. "2017, I think, can be best characterized as shareholder activists swinging for the fences,” Mr. Freedman explains. “They went after high-profile companies and CEOs in 2017 like never before, whereas 2016 had a high volume of campaigns, but it lacked the big-time names and really the big fights where battle lines are drawn. Those really didn't come into focus in 2016 as much.” Given the success of well-known activists in 2017, campaigns in 2018 will likely continue this forceful trend. A more novel tendency in 2017, however, is expected to continue in the upcoming year, namely, the unparalleled number of CEOs whose removal was sought by activists at the outset of campaigns: “Perhaps the single biggest trend of 2017 was the targeting of chief executives in proxy fights. We had seen that before, but we had never seen the likes of it in 2017, where so far more than 10 chief executives have been targeted by an activist investor in a proxy campaign. That's unprecedented.” Moreover, skilled and eager C-level executives have increasingly become the catalyst in campaigns where activists are determined to oust incumbent executives. Mr. Freedman remarks, “Activists are finding themselves able to recruit from the highest levels of the C-suite and finding that there are incredibly well-qualified executives who are willing to stand firm beside an activist as a nominee or CEO candidate." Freedman also commented on the trend of activism expanding into other countries around the world“I've never looked at more companies in foreign jurisdictions for clients than I have in 2017. Olshan has analyzed at least 35 companies in jurisdictions outside the U.S. for clients who have a keen interest in pursuing campaigns.” He concludes, “It's taken a few years for the cultural and institutional attitudes to change as they have here in the U.S. to more widely embrace shareholder activists and their agendas. What we're seeing, especially in Europe, is an attitude shift, where there's a better understanding of shareholder activism's benefits and that it's not about short-term focused agendas as the defense pundits would have you believe.”

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