What Activist Investing In 2015 Was Like

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As of mid-December, there had been a record-setting 355 activist campaigns announced against U.S. companies, topping the previous record of 353 set in 2008. These high-impact activist campaigns – those focused on value creation, public short, board seat, and officer/director removal, hit a post-financial crisis low of 219 announced in 2010 but have steadily risen every year since.


Despite the record volume, 2015 will most likely be remembered for the quality of the companies targeted which included 33 Fortune 500 companies. The list includes campaigns against household names American Express (AXP), American International Group (AIG), The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (BNY), General Electric (GE), General Motors (GM), Macy’s (M), Qualcomm (QCOM) and Xerox (XRX).

Activists have also had a record year in terms of campaigns resulting in board seats. As of mid-Dec., 127 campaigns resulted in at least one board seat for the activist (or where the activist had a meaningful say in the appointment of a new independent director). The data includes all campaigns resulting in board seats attained via a vote at a proxy fight, to settle a proxy fight, granted as part of other activist campaigns, or granted to prominent activists that are Schedule 13D filers but have not publicly agitated at the company, and is based on the date that the seat was granted or won.


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