Newcomers To Activism Feed Boom In Campaigns

Growing numbers of investors are turning to activism, reflecting a sea-change in how the strategy is viewed by US financial markets.

The number of investors with no known history of activist campaigns subjecting US portfolio companies to public demands has grown every year since 2013, according to data collected by data provider Activist Insight, representing on average more than one-fifth of activist campaigns since 2011.

Already, 2016 is off to a fast-paced start, with Harvest Capital Strategies and Alken Asset Management high-profile newcomers to activism.

Minimum number of investors with no previous record of activism subjecting US companies to public demands.

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Average
First-timers 15 28 20 36 49 24.75
As a % of total ‘active’ activists 23% 24% 16% 23% 23% 21%

The data were derived from Activist Insight’s database of activist investors. The data represent a conservative estimate of the number of first-time activists for each year.

Growing influence of “occasional” activists

The number of activists which publicly engage portfolio companies only infrequently has also risen, both in absolute terms and as a proportion of the total in campaigns at US companies.

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Average
Total ‘active’ activists 64 118 125 160 213 136
Of which, “occasional” 19 38 32 70 115 54.8
Occasional as % of ‘active’ activists 30% 32% 26% 44% 54% 37%

Commenting on the data, Activist Insight spokesman Josh Black said “Previously passive investors have observed the successes of dedicated activist funds over the past years and now see the strategy as either an opportunity or a plausible last resort to be employed at troubled portfolio companies. Those issuers, which have spent the past few years preparing for the possibility that they may be targeted by activist investors now have a new level of uncertainty over who the activist that emerges may be.”

* Activist Insight categorizes investors based on whether activism is a primary or partial focus element of a fund’s mandate (Primary: regularly or comprising a majority of the portfolio. Partial: a frequent but less significant element of a wider portfolio), or an occasional (i.e. infrequent) practice.

For more information or if you have queries about the data, please contact Josh Black using the above details.

About Activist Insight

Since 2012, Activist Insight has provided its diverse range of clients with the most comprehensive information on activist investing worldwide. Regularly quoted in the financial press, Activist Insight is the trusted source for data in this ever-evolving space. Activist Insight offers two great products: Activist Insight Online and Activism Monthly Premium magazine, and counts many of the world’s leading investment banks, law firms, shareholder communications firms and institutional investors as its clients.


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