Jeffrey Smith, chief executive officer and chief investment officer at Starboard Value LP.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
2021 was a busy year for activist funds, with notable investors including Starboard Value, JANA Partners and Carl Icahn pushing for meaningful change at an array of companies.
In all, activist shareholders embarked on 89 campaigns last year in a range of sectors, including information technology and consumer discretionary. These investors also used different methods to improve outcomes for shareholders, including waging campaigns despite owning less than 5% of a company’s common stock. This is known as “under the threshold” activism.
Here’s a glance at how 2021 shaped up for activist funds.
Behind the numbers
Total activism: Total activism remained remarkably consistent from 2020 to 2021. In both years there were a total of 89 new campaigns. This continues to be well below the pre-Covid years (102 in 2019 and 113 in 2018). We expect that as Covid subsides, people will go back to work in-person and things begin to return to normal, activism will also return to its old levels.
What was unique about 2021, however, is that it was the first year since we began covering “under the threshold” (or UTT) activism in 2014 that the number of UTT situations exceeded the number of 13D situations. There were 41 material 13D…
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