Lazard’s 2022 review of shareholder activism highlights key trends and data in shareholder activism activity in Q4 and for the year. New campaign activity in 2022 represented a 36% increase Y-o-Y and the busiest year in the last 4 years.
Each quarter in 2022 saw a material Y-o-Y increase in new campaign activity, with Q4 marking the second busiest single quarter in the last 4 years after a record-setting Q1.
Technology was the most frequently targeted sector in 2022, representing 21% of activist targets; the extraordinary decline in valuations created an opportune environment for activists who approached the sector in record volumes—especially in the U.S., where the Technology sector accounted for 27% of 2022 campaign activity.
After a slow start to the year, M&A-related campaigns made a comeback by year-end and represented 41% of all 2022 campaigns. The rebound in M&A objectives was primarily driven by an increase in break up demands in Q4, as challenging market conditions shone a spotlight on the logic behind keeping disparate businesses together.
Finally, activists won 108 Board seats in 2022, representing a 21% Y-o-Y increase. With the universal proxy rule now in effect and a majority of corporate advance notice deadlines occurring in Q1, the seasonal peak in Q1 2023 has the potential to be even more pronounced.