Activist funds enjoyed resounding success in the first half of the year

The first semester was a good time for activist funds. All over the world, they have achieved resounding success with very large companies.

Last February, under pressure from the English fund Bluebell Capital, created in 2019 by Francesco Trapani, the historic boss of the luxury brand Bulgari, supported by the American asset management company Artisan Partners, Emmanuel Faber was ousted from his position as CEO at Danone.

Engine N ° 1, with three seats on the board of ExxonMobil End of May, ExxonMobil gave in to the claims of Engine N ° 1 . This investment company, created late 2019, which is not a heavyweight in finance (it only has 0, 02% of the capital of the oil major), succeeded, against the advice of the leaders, in having three new directors elected during the general meeting. Until then, the American ExxonMobil had succeeded in dismissing almost all the resolutions tabled by activists concerned about climate change.

Another example, in Japan, the Singaporean fund Effissimo obtained, in March 2021, the establishment of a commission of inquiry into the questionable circumstances of the votes at Toshiba’s annual GA of 31 July 2020. The CEO has been removed from office.

Less active than in the first half of the year 2019 However, behind these successes, these funds are less active than in the first half of the year 2019. The coronavirus epidemic, which had already slowed down their momentum last year, continued to dissuade them from resuming the attack.

The number of companies targeted is down. They have been 31 in the world, against 518 in the first semester 2020, according to Insightia statistics. A low point since 594, in most financial places. The decline is most noticeable in Europe (- 25% compared to last year). With two campaigns, against Danone and Vivendi, Artisan Partners was the most active there. He invested, according to Insightia, 1.6 billion dollars in these two companies.

Behind him, figure Cevian, the fund of Swedish origin, known in France to hold 02% of Rexel and to invest for the long term. In June, he declared that he held 5% of the capital of the British insurer Aviva . He hopes for more ambitious cost cuts and more dividends and share buybacks.

Elliott, still the most active Finally, the formidable American fund Elliott, founded by Paul Singer, condemned early 2020 by the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) to pay 20 millions of euros for not having respected stock market regulations by taking 9% of Norbert Dentressangle in 2015 (a decision which is the subject of an appeal), has not been very active in France this year. But, it has been in other countries.

He has five campaigns to his credit in the second quarter 2020 (Duke Energy, Dropbox, and GSK in particular) in the United Kingdom. At the British health giant, he advocates the arrival of administrators with “deep know-how” in biopharmacy and consumer health. He also asked the group to seriously consider the prospect of an outright sale of the non-prescription drug division.