Activism increases across Asia and Europe

May 19, 2016
<p>US continues to see far more companies targeted, notes Activist Insight</p>

Shareholder activists targeted 349 companies worldwide in the first five months of the year, according to new data from Activist Insight.

The figure is a 13 percent increase on the same period last year, when a total of 308 companies faced similar demands between January 1 and May 9, 2015, the firm explains in a press release.

In percentage terms, Asia has seen the biggest uptick in activism with 73 percent more campaigns so far this year. Shareholder activism remains relatively low in real numbers, however, with just 19 campaigns to date in 2016, up from 11 a year ago.

Europe has also seen an increase, with companies facing a 30 percent uptick in activism, led by campaigns in the UK and the Channel Islands, representing a 46 percent increase. German firms have also seen slightly more action, notes Activist Insight, with an increase from one to four companies publicly targeted.

In fact, activist campaigns are up across all four regions studied – North America, Europe, Asia and Australia (up 17 percent) – though figures for North America paint a picture of extremes.

The largest absolute growth in the number of companies targeted by activists is in the US, where 241 companies have been affected, compared with 216 last year, representing a 12 percent increase, according to the press release. At the same time, ‘northern neighbor Canada has seen activist campaigns fall 23 percent… with just 20 companies facing public demands compared with 26 in the period last year.’

Overall as a region, however, North America has seen an 8 percent increase in activism campaigns, up from 243 in the first five months of 2015 to 262 in the same period this year.

‘Concerns about an economic slowdown and overvalued stock markets have led some to call a ceiling on activism,’ comments Josh Black, Activist Insight spokesperson. But ‘as the data makes clear, more and more companies are having to deal with demands from their shareholders.’

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