Lazard's Quarterly Review of Shareholder Activism – Q1 2019

Reports and studies — New York,

April 09, 2019

Key observations from the first-quarter 2019 report include: 

The pace of activism in Q1 2019 was in line with historical levels, but down relative to a record 2018

  • Q1 2019 saw 57 new campaigns against 53 companies, down year-over-year relative to 2018, but in line with multi-year average levels
  • Capital deployed in Q1 2019 ($11.3bn) was in line with recent quarters, and the top 10 activists had a cumulative $75.5bn deployed in public activist positions (new and existing) at the end of the quarter

Transaction-focused campaigns were by far the most common in Q1 2019, with an M&A-related objective arising in nearly 50% of all new campaigns

  • Pushes to sell the company or engage in break-up or divestiture transactions were the most frequent M&A objectives
  • Attempts to scuttle or sweeten existing deals were relatively less frequent than in prior quarters

Heading into proxy season, 103 Board seats remain “in play”

  • Activists won 39 seats in Q1 2019, down from a record-breaking 65 in Q1 2018
  • All Board seats won were secured via settlements
  • Q1 2019 saw a notable surge in long slate nominations, with 10 long slates nominated, accounting for 77 Board seats sought

Q1 2019 saw continued robust activity outside the US

  • Campaigns outside the U.S. continued to account for ~33% of global activity

Passive managers urge focus on culture and purpose and active managers took their vocal approaches to new heights in Q1 2019

  • Comments from passive managers come amid continued inflows into low-cost investment strategies and increasing shareholder concentration

Download the review to read the findings in full.

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