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Lazard's Quarterly Review of Shareholder Activism – H1 2019

Jul 10 2019

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


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 Key observations from the first-half 2019 report include: 

 Campaign activity is in line with elevated multi-year pace, but ~25% lower than record 2018

  • In H1 2019, 107 new campaigns targeted 99 companies, down ~25% relative to H1 2018’s record pace but in line with the elevated multi-year trend
  • Top 10 activists increased their cumulative capital deployed in public activist positions (new and existing) from $75.5bn at the end of Q1 2019 to $82.2bn at the end of H1 2019


M&A theses are arising in nearly half of all campaigns

  • 46% of all activist campaigns in H1 2019 had an M&A thesis, as activists continue to see transactions as opportunities to generate alpha
  • Comparatively, from 2014-2018, M&A-related objectives arose in only one-third of all campaigns

Activists are driving significant board and management change

  • Activists won 81 Board seats in H1 2019, 91% of which came from settlements
  • Of the 19 campaigns that went to a final vote in H1 2019, 15 were against non-U.S. targets and activists prevailed in only three situations
  • The record 14 long slates nominated in H1 2019 yielded 28 seats out of the 99 seats initially contested, with two of the long slate campaigns still ongoing
  • 19% of CEOs of companies targeted by activists left their role within one year of campaign launch



Activism outside the U.S. reaches record highs

  • New campaigns against non-U.S. targets accounted for 45% of global capital deployed in H1 2019, compared to 37% in H1 2018
  • In Europe, 20% of H1 2019 global capital deployed activists focused on smaller targets and M&A theses for new targets
  • APAC activism accounted for 18% of H1 2019 global capital deployed, with Japan being the single busiest non-U.S. jurisdiction



Active manager “toolkit” for dissent expands further

  • Traditional active managers are no longer waiting until a shareholder vote to make themselves heard on important corporate matters

 Top passive managers drive culture, purpose and ESG issues

  • The first half of 2019 saw numerous companies face contested shareholder votes on issues surrounding ESG and executive compensation
  • With increasing shareholder concentration, passive manager statements and policy updates continue to be closely monitored



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