“Activists Ball” Draws Crowd as Proxy Season Nears

As temperatures dropped in NYC and Wall Street got through week two of earnings, activism season heated up at the 13D Active Passive Investor Summit, where GPPers encamped for the day. Several well-known activists, such as Jeff Smith and Dan Loeb, went public with new names at the conference and through high-profile interviews.

 

Starboard. Jeff Smith kicked off the conference with a mega-cap name by revealing Starboard’s stake in Salesforce. He made the case that the company needs to increase its focus on operating and profit margins. The Salesforce stake generated the most headlines, but Starboard wasn’t finished – revealing new positions in software company Splunk and data center business Vertiv.

 

Third Point. Ahead of speaking at the investor conference, Dan Loeb built a position in Colgate-Palmolive and urged the company to send its pet food business to the pound where it “would command a premium multiple if spun off.” 

 

More activism. In her first byline for Semafor, the newly launched global news platform, Liz Hoffman covered activist investor Engine No. 1’s latest demands of a corporate giant. Following the playbook it used against Exxon, the activist is wielding its small stake in Coca-Cola to call for the company to get more aggressive in reaching its recycling goals.

 

Hoffman followed her activism story with a scoop on the SEC and its reported decision to scrap a rule on carbon emission disclosures, specifically Scope 3 emissions. A sigh of relief for many companies.

 

Twitter. We're closing in on the October 28 deadline set by Delaware Chancery Court Chief Justice Judge Kathaleen McCormick for Elon Musk to close the deal. Twitter has been preparing employees for next steps according to Bloomberg’s Kurt Wagner and Edward Ludlow, who reported that the social media company has frozen employee equity accounts to prohibit trading. During Tesla’s earnings call, Musk said he is actually “excited” about the deal. On Thursday, David Faber’s CNBC reported that Musk continues to try to raise equity for the transaction, while the Washington Post reported on documents outlining Musk's plans to layoff 75% of the Twitter workforce.


Have a great weekend,

GPP Team

FEATURED ARTICLES

Bloomberg: Salesforce Jumps After Activist Investor Starboard Takes Stake

As their profitability lags, Salesforce has been targeted by Jeff Smith’s Starboard. Confident that the tech giant has the resources to regain ground, Starboard’s thesis calls for increased intensity around improving margins. Read More

Wall Street Journal: Activist Investor Starboard Has Nearly 5% Stake in Splunk

The latest in a string of moves by activist fund Starboard, the company now controls just below 5% of Splunk, a software and data analytics business. Read More

Reuters: Third Point Takes Stake in Colgate-Palmolive, Urges Pet Food Spinoff

Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Uday Sampath Kumar report that Dan Loeb's Third Point has taken a position in Colgate-Palmolive to try and unlock "meaningful hidden value" in the company's pet nutrition business, Hill’s. Read More

Semafor: An Activist Investor Has a Garbage Plan for Coca-Cola

Engine No. 1 has a new target: Coca Cola. In the newly launched platform founded by Justin and Ben Smith, Liz Hoffman details the impact firm's small stake and new strategy for changing Coke's recycling operations. Read More 

ADDITIONAL READINGS & LISTENINGS 

Financial Times: US Antitrust Warnings Lead to Corporate Board Resignations

A number of directors, mostly hailing from private equity companies, have stepped down in the wake of an announcement regarding anti-competition violations released by the DOJ’s antitrust unit. Read More

The Tim Ferriss Show: Aryeh Bourkoff — Media’s Hottest Dealmaker on How to Negotiate, Rejecting Constraints, Mastering the Calendar to Create More Time, and How to Play the Long Game

Aryeh Bourkoff, Chairman and CEO of LionTree and founder of Kindred Media, sits down with Tim Ferris to talk about his dynamic career and his approach to dealmaking. Listen Here

The New York Times: Meta Forced to Sell Giphy After British Antitrust Order

In their last and final decision following an appeal, the British Competition and Markets Authority has decided that a sale of the media clip company is necessary. Read More  

Fortune: Leadership Next Podcast: Wharton's Dean on Prepared Leadership

Erika H. James, the Dean of UPenn's Wharton Business School, joins Alan Murray to discuss the evolving role of leadership and her aspirations for the next generation of trailblazers. Listen Here 

ESG NEWS

WSJ Podcasts: How a New 'Anti-Woke' Bank Stumbled

Once billed as an alternative to conventional banks whose policies are becoming too “woke,” GloriFi has stumbled even further, this time with the resignation of CEO and founder Toby Neugebauer. Read More

Bloomberg Law: ESG Compliance Strategy Must Align with Regulation

Hogan Lovells attorneys Stephanie Yonekura and Katy Forsstrom discuss how companies can improve ESG compliance by decreasing reliance on third-party relationships and incorporating ESG into their existing anti-bribery and compliance programs. Read More

Financial Times: BlackRock and Vanguard Tell UK Inquiry They Will Not Quit Fossil Fuel Investments

Kenza Bryan and Brooke Masters write that during a recent probe by the UK’s Environmental Audit Committee, both BlackRock and Vanguard confirmed they will not halt fossil fuel investments. Read More

FROM OUR DESK TO YOURS


This week, a number of GPPers attended the Columbia Journalism School’s Knight-Bagehot anniversary celebration dinner. An institution that GPP has long supported, this particular event—which honors the Fellowship’s 47th year—brings together the nation’s top business journalists and corporate leaders. Highlights included a fireside chat with President and CEO of Paramount Global, Bob Bakish, as well an address by Jelani Cobb, the newly installed Dean of the School of Journalism.

 

If you’ve taken our advice over the last few weeks and you’re a bit, “spooky-ed out,” Netflix’s new docu-drama on the founding of Spotify, Playlist, offers a never-before-seen look at how the streaming service fundamentally altered the music and entertainment industry. 

PEOPLE MOVES


  • After 36 years with JP Morgan Chase, Carlos Hernandez, the executive chair of investment and corporate banking, will retire. Read More  

 

  • Toby Neugebauer, the CEO of banking startup GloriFi, has resigned. Read More

 

  • Sujeet Indap of the Financial Times has been appointed to the publication’s newly created role of Wall Street Editor in New York, further enhancing their coverage of the corporate finance and Wall Street landscape. He is currently the US Editor of FT’s Lex column. Read More

 

  • Ravi Mattu has joined NYTimes DealBook as Managing Editor, following nearly 14 years at the Financial Times. He was most recently Deputy Asia News Editor. Read More

UPCOMING EVENTS

October 24, 2022: JREG & YLJ Present: A Discussion on Corporate Law in the 21st Century

October 26, 2022: Axios BFD

October 26-27, 2022: FT’s Moral Money Summit 

November 8-9, 2022: Berkeley Forum on Corporate Governance 

November 8-9, 2022: Harvard Corporate Governance Roundtable 

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