Energy companies are lawyering up with ESG expertise. Bloomberg Law reports that with ExxonMobil and Chevron fresh off several high-profile ESG-related challenges at annual meetings, the demand for legal advice on ESG activism and the general legal risks associated with these issues has spiked. The article features two firms at the forefront – Baker Botts and Vinson & Elkins – that are long-time legal advisers to oil & gas companies. V&E has created an ESG Taskforce and Baker Botts is incorporating environmental justice into the legal risks tied to ESG issues. The article points out that lapses in ESG reporting details can lead to gaps in what a company is doing vs. what it is saying. For communicators, it’s a reminder that the ESG wave can lead to both reputation and legal harm.
Meanwhile this week, an activist-involved takeover battle in the food service industry appears to have come to an end. Welbilt, where activist investor Carl Icahn owns around 8 percent of the company, is expected to be acquired by Italy-based Ali Group in a deal that values the company at about $3.4 billion. The battle ended when Middleby Corp., which had previously agreed to buy Welbilt for about $2.9 billion, declined to raise its offer. “This is activism working extremely well,” Icahn told Reuters, noting his firm was represented on the board and brought in new management. “Working well” for Icahn indeed – especially when an auction adds half a billion dollars to a sale price from a topping bid.
Have a great weekend,
Rita, Connor, and Mike