ARMed Rodgery: As IPO Market Revives, Jets’ Playoff Hopes Stumble on Turf   

Summer is beginning to seem like a distant memory as we head into fall and what is shaping up to be a bull market for industry events and predictions for the year ahead. Melissa Sawyer, Sullivan & Cromwell’s Global Head of M&A and Corporate Governance Practice, helped kick things off by leading a webinar on lessons from the 2023 proxy season and trends for 2024. A major highlight of the 2023 proxy season was the significant increase (+26%) in shareholder proposals featuring environmental, social or political issues. Notably, there was nearly a two-thirds (+65%) surge in proposals by “anti-ESG” proponents despite low support from investors. Looking ahead, Sawyer predicts more proposals around diversity and hiring practices following the Supreme Court’s decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College.


Over at the Future Proof event started by Josh Brown of Ritholtz Wealth Management, Engine No.1 CEO Jennifer Grancio spoke to CNBC where she echoed Bill Ackman on seeing a retreat from activist investing. Grancio described the new philosophy of constructive dialogue with companies and cited Engine No.1’s work with Coca-Cola to ramp up recycling of its cans and bottles, but stopped short, saying more often than not “being active and not hostile is the way to go.” In less than a month GPPers will be at the Eighth Annual Berkeley Fall Forum on Corporate Governance with our own crystal ball – don’t miss Steve Lipin and the panel he is joining October 10: Beyond ESG: Moving from Risk to Opportunity.


Meanwhile, we (finally!) have some real IPO news. In its highly anticipated public market debut, Arm Holdings shot skyward by as much as 25% after shares began trading, raising $4.87 billion in the process. Bloomberg’s Ryan Gould and Ian King report that that listing gives the chip designer a market cap of $65 billion, and a significant pay day for long-time investor Softbank, which still retains 90% ownership of the company. Dealmakers are seeing auspicious signs. The New York Times’ DealBook team notes that “the [IPO] thaw is happening more quickly in the U.S., where proceeds from offerings are up 180 percent year-on-year.”


And where there are deals and proxy contests, there are comms advisors alongside financial and legal guiding the way as the light in their respective deal teams’ lighthouses. The Deal released its communications edition of “Who’s Helping Whom ‘23,” highlighting the top communications advisers to corporations and activists in the first half of the year. Gladstone is honored to have been named alongside our esteemed peers in the industry.  


Have a great weekend,

GPP Team


Sullivan & Cromwell: 2023 Proxy Season Review

Sullivan & Cromwell’s annual proxy season review takes a look at both trends from the most recent proxy season as well predictions for what companies can expect in 2024. Read More

CNBC: Energy transition investment is creating huge value, says Engine No. 1 CEO Jennifer Grancio

Engine No. 1 CEO Jennifer Grancio joined ‘The Exchange’ to talk about the sale of the firm’s ETF business, its previous brush with Exxon Mobil and ESG. Read More

Bloomberg: Chip Designer Arm’s Debut Gains Deliver Win for Owner SoftBank

In its highly anticipated public market debut, chip designer Arm raised nearly $5 billion when it listed on the Nasdaq this week. The stock rose by as much as 25% on its first trading day, marking the largest IPO of the year. Read More

DealBook: Investors Warily Await the Instacart and Arm I.P.O.s

On the heels of yet another successful IPO following the Arm listing, The New York Times DealBook team questions whether the IPO thaw is underway. With Instacart set to begin pricing its share next week, Silicon Valley and Wall Street will be closely watching to see if that is indeed the case. Read More

The Deal: Who’s Helping Whom '23: Communications Firms

Ron Orol and team compiled a list of the top communications advisers to corporations and activists through the first six months of the year, in which Gladstone was named. Read More


Reuters: Sleep Number Investor Stadium Capital Pushes for Board Shakeup-Letter

Svea Herbst-Bayliss reports that Stadium Capital Management is pushing for a board revamp at Sleep Number Corp. Owning approximately 9% of the company, Stadium has called for a board refresh and has signaled at a potential proxy fight. Read More

Bloomberg TV: Shareholder Activism Surges, JPMorgan Says

Darren Novak, head of EMEA activist defense at JPMorgan, discusses the increased activism in the region. Novak points out the rise in first-time activists as well as institutional investors who are more often acting as activist investors to pressure companies. Watch Here

Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance: Activist Settlements: Fiduciary Questions for Boards

Neil Whoriskey, Partner at Milbank LLP, outlines key questions for boards to consider before onboarding an activist investor. Read More

Activist Investing Today Podcast: Morrow’s Weinberg Tackles Retail Activism

Morrow Sodali’s Geoff Weinberg discusses the importance of reaching out to retail investors in addition to institutional investors. According to Weinberg, retail investors do not respond to traditional tactics used by companies and instead need to be met where they congregate, platforms like Reddit forums or StockTwits. Listen Here


Diligent Market Intelligence: IN-DEPTH: Q&A with Gladstone Place Partners 

Gladstone’s very own Steve Lipin shares his thoughts on the impact of the universal proxy card (UPC), M&A activity in the second half of 2023 and the need for boards to continue working on diversity efforts. Read More

CLS Blue Sky Blog: Corporate Governance in the Age of Superstar CEOs 

Gonzaga University School of Law professor, Angela Aneiros outlines the challenges of corporate governance in the era of 'superstar' CEOs and makes the case for more methods to limit their power. Read More

Bloomberg: How Sam Bankman-Fried’s Elite Parents Enabled His Crypto Empire 

In this long-form article, Max Chafkin and Hannah Miller, delve into the origins of FTX, highlighting the pivotal role Sam Bankman-Fried’s elite and influential parents played in its ascendancy. Read More

M&A & IPOs

CNBC: Benchmark’s Bill Gurley on the state of the IPO market

Citizens Financial Group CEO Bruce Van Saun joined “Bloomberg Markets,” where he predicted that consolidation in the U.S. banking sector would slow as “uncertainty will keep deals muted over the next six to 12 months, with some transactions happening among smaller lenders.” Watch Here

The New York Times: Twinkies and Jam to Mix as Smucker Buys Hostess for $5.6 Billion

J. Edward Moreno reports that J.M. Smucker is set to acquire Hostess Brands in a $5.6 billion deal. The acquisition, which attracted mixed reactions from analysts regarding brand synergy, is banking on American consumers increasing appetite for sweet treats like the iconic Twinkie. Read More

Barron’s: Morgan Stanley Says Signs Still Point to More M&A in 2024

David McCabe and Cecilia Daniel Simkowitz, Head of Investment Management at Morgan Stanley, says that early action and positive market data points hint at a stronger M&A outlook for 2024. Read More


Breakingviews: Deal Cops Start Practically Walking the Beat

Jonathan Guilford covers the FTC's decision to drop lawsuits against Amgen and ICE, describing the shift as "almost conciliatory." In light of recent losses, this pullback indicates the FTC’s awareness of the risk of establishing legal precedent that could weaken its own influence. Read More


Knowledge at Wharton: How Accountable Capitalism Can Help the ESG Movement

Shankar Parameshwaran highlights insights from Wharton LinkedIn Live event that engaged Jennifer Grancio, CEO of Engine No. 1 and Monica Dimitracopoulos, EY Americas Corporate Sustainability Leader in conversation on “accountable capitalism” and the reality of upholding ESG values. Read More

CFO Daily: Is ‘ESG’ Over? GE, Walmart, and Colgate-Palmolive Execs on When They Do and Don’t Still Use the Term

In a panel session on Wednesday during the Fortune Impact Initiative conference, executives share whether they use the term “ESG.” Kathleen McLaughlin, EVP and chief sustainability officer at Walmart said investors have been asking for an ESG microsite and don’t want the company to use terms they don’t understand. Read More


GPP was at the Jets vs Bill game described by the NY Post as “agony and ecstasy.” As we mourn the loss to the team of Aaron Rodgers, we remain cautiously hopeful for the rest of the season after the big win at a packed Jetlife Stadium.  

In addition to the Jets game, GPP went to the amazing new David Byrne and Fatboy Slim show on Broadway called Here Lies Love, a musical about Imelda Marcos, the former Filipina First Lady. The reviews were great, David Byrne is brilliant as always and if you’re a New Yorker or in New York visiting, don’t miss it. (Bootleg pic below). Speaking of David Byrne, the Talking Heads movie, Stop Making Sense, is being re-issued in theaters soon and we at GPP—some of whom are old enough to have seen the original concert and movie—are excited about seeing it again.

Speaking of events, on Tuesday September 19, Stanford’s Graduate School of Business is hosting its Excellence in Leadership Award Dinner in New York City at the Mandarin Oriental, and awarding our client and friend Carlos Brito, class of 89, the former CEO of Anheuser-Busch InBev, from 2005-2021, its award. The award is given to an executive and Stanford GSB graduate who has made significant contributions to the corporate world and the community. Brito, as he is known, is the current CEO of Belron, the world’s leading vehicle glass repair, replacement and recalibration group.


  • Howard Schultz is stepping down from the Starbucks board and will be replaced by former Alibaba executive Wei Zhang. Read More

  • Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins was named Chair of the Business Roundtable. Read More

  • Troy Broderick and Jillian Alsheimer are joining Perella Weinberg to oversee shareholder engagement, activism and contested and complex M&A. Read More

  • Jamie Smyth is changing beats from pharma to US Energy Editor at the FT. Read More
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