Behind a wave of major shareholder victories during the current proxy season are a crop of new stewardship team leaders at U.S. institutional investors. While attention often focuses on activist hedge funds agitating for changes, it’s how the Big Three and other major institutional investors vote that swings the tally of most shareholder proposals. Reuters examines the new blood inside BlackRock, Vanguard, and Capital Group’s proxy voters and their impact so far in 2021.
Speaking of activists, the Financial Times takes a deeper look into Engine No. 1 and finds a key component that all dissident investors need to succeed: close ties and respect within the institutional investor community. Engine gained two seats at last week’s Exxon AGM and this week, after another vote tally, added a third director. While the name is new and the AUM is small, its founder Chris James and the principal who led the campaign, Charlie Penner, are big hedge fund veterans whose relationships with Wall Street and specifically California’s pension fund for teachers proved key in their campaign.
Finally, Elliott Management’s surge up the activist ladder started with software bets 20 years ago and the activist once again set its sights on the space this week with news, via an anonymously sourced story in the Wall Street Journal, that the fund has taken a large stake in Dropbox. M&A speculation has surrounded the cloud computing company and you can bet, given Elliott’s track record, that a strategic review is likely the focus of whatever campaign may lie ahead.
Have a great weekend,