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Lazard's Annual Review of Shareholder Activism - 2018

Jan 9 2019

Lazard's annual review on shareholder activism compiles and analyzes data on key activism trends globally.


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Key observations from the 2018 report include: 

2018 was a record-breaking year for shareholder activism

  • 226 companies were targeted in 2018, as compared to 188 companies in 2017
  • $65.0bn of capital deployed in 2018, up from $62.4bn in 2017
  • In spite of significant market volatility, Q4 2018 was the most active Q4 on record both by campaign volume and capital deployed
  • Against the backdrop of a robust M&A market, 33% of 2018 activist campaigns were M&A related

Graph Annual Campaign Activity 2018

Chart: Activist Role in M&A 2018 


More investors are using activism as a tactic

  • A record 131 investors engaged in activism in 2018, reflecting the continued expansion of activism as a tactic
  • 40 “first timers” launched activist campaigns in 2018, as compared to 23 “first timers” in 2017
  • Nine of the top 10 activists (by current activist position 1) invested more than $1bn in 2018 (60 new campaigns in aggregate)

 Graph Investors Launching Activist Campaigns

Activism Is Reshaping Boardrooms

  • 161 Board seats won in 2018, up 56% from 2017 and 11% higher than the previous record of 145 seats in 2016
  • Activists continue to name accomplished candidates, with 27% of activist appointees having public company CEO/CFO experience
  • However, only 18% of activist appointees in 2018 were female, as compared to 40% of new S&P 500 directors in 2018

Chart: Board seats won 2018

Activism Has Global Reach

  • Activist campaigns in Europe and APAC accounted for 23% and 12% of companies targeted, respectively
  • 58 European campaigns and 30 APAC campaigns in 2018 were each record highs

Chart: activism review 2018

Traditional Active Managers Are the “New Vocalists”

  • Traditional active managers are increasingly comfortable sharing their views on major activist campaigns in private interactions with management and more public forums



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