Activism’s New Rules
Hedge Fund Insight
by Montieth M. Illingworth, president of Montieth & Company
"All of those shifts have increased activism’s appetites. Activism was previously focused on easy prey in the middle market. Then, emboldened by their growing success, activists woke up to the fact that the same amount of effort applied to the top 10% of names by market cap can generate far better rewards. That has created a who’s who of targets, globally: Hitachi, Walt Disney, Whole Foods, Rolls-Royce, Proctor & Gamble, WPP, Avon, General Electric, and on, and on.
And they’re not just going for the mothership. A new tactic is to target companies majority owned by a larger entity, essentially accusing the latter of lazy ownership. This is again the competency of management issue writ large. That’s what Elliott Advisors, the European affiliate of U.S. based Elliott Management Corp did when going after Italian rail signaling firm STS Ansaldo: it was majority owned by Japan’s Hitachi. Or when Paris’ CIAM went after Euro Disney and SFR Group and its owner Altice NV."