Activist Looks to Dress Up Gucci, Elliott Brews a Deal with Constellation

It was a busy week for activists – and for Bloomberg’s Crystal Tse. As news broke of Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri’s plans to step down, Tse and her colleagues Swetha Gopinath and Ruth David reported that Bluebell Capital Partners had built a stake in the luxury brand's parent company Kering and is aiming to give the Gucci brand a makeover, including a potential merger with Richemont. However, bringing change about at Kering will be difficult considering the Pinault family owns roughly 60% of the company’s voting rights. In another report, Tse also shared that the beverage maker Constellation Brands has brewed up a deal with Elliott Investment Management. The company will name two independent directors to its board in exchange for a standstill agreement blocking the activist from launching any additional campaigns against Constellation for a year. Elliott doesn’t normally stay quiet for long, and just a day later, WSJ’s Lauren Thomas broke the news that the activist built a "significant stake” in Catalent ahead of the drugmaker’s nomination window close on July 29th and plans to agitate the pharmaceutical company’s board.


Meanwhile, trustbusters went on the offensive this week after a series of losses, chief among them the approval by a federal judge for Microsoft to move forward with its acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The FTC and DOJ released proposed joint merger guidelines that law firm Cadwalader says lay out “a radically different conception of government enforcement.”


When CNBC’s Andrew Ross-Sorkin asked DOJ’s antitrust chief Jonathan Kanter about the guidelines' expanded aperture on how regulators look at mergers, Kanter answered: “merger enforcement is necessarily predictive, so [the guidelines are] ultimately a risk assessment. We’re trying to understand the extent to which the merger will threaten competition.” FTC Chair Lina Khan later joined Squawk on the Street to share her thoughts on the guidelines and the state of M&A as part of the media blitz.


Finally, BlackRock joined fellow financial behemoths Vanguard and State Street in announcing an expansion of its retail voting program this week. BlackRock will offer proxy voting choices to U.S. retail investors in its iShares Core S&P 500 ETF, its largest ETF by assets. While the fund’s investors will not be able to cast votes at individual companies, they will be able to choose from several different policies “ranging from voting generally with management to prioritizing Catholic values or environmental, social and governance factors,” writes Financial Times’ Brooke Masters.

Wachtell noted in a memo that the strategy responds “to criticism that the largest asset managers wield disproportionate influence over the public markets,” however the extent of that limit is “dependent on several factors, including the number of investors participating in voting choice and the range of voting options being offered.”

Have a great weekend,

GPP Team



Bloomberg: Kering Said to Tap Defense Advisers as Activist Bluebell Circles

Crystal Tse, Swetha Gopinath, and Ruth David report that Bluebell has acquired a stake in Kering and that the activist firm is pushing for changes in the French luxury house's Gucci business. Read More

Bloomberg: Constellation Announces New Directors in Pact With Activist Elliott

Constellation Brands appointed two independent directors to its board as part of a cooperation agreement with Elliott Investment Management following a monthslong private engagement reports Crystal Tse. Read More

The Wall Street Journal: Elliott Takes Big Stake in Drugmaker Catalent

Elliott revealed a “significant stake” in drugmaker Catalent on Thursday. The scoop from Lauren Thomas comes ahead of the company’s director nomination window closing on July 29 as the activist has been talking to potential director candidates. Read More

Cadwalader: FTC and DOJ Jointly Issue Draft Merger Guidelines

The law firm weighs in on Wednesday’s announcement from the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission that revealed new proposed guidelines aimed at “killer acquisitions.” Read More

Financial Times: BlackRock Offers a Vote to Retail Investors in Its Biggest ETF

BlackRock has joined State Street and Vanguard in allowing retail investors the ability to vote on shareholder proposals. Investors in BlackRock’s iShares Core S&P 500 ETF will now have the option to choose among seven different general policies or allow BlackRock to continue voting their shares. Read More

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz: BlackRock Joins State Street and Vanguard in Further Expanding Voting Choice 

Elina Tetelbaum and Carmen X. W. Lu explain the expansion of BlackRock’s retail voting initiative that would allow investors in its iShares Core S&P 500 ETF, its largest exchange-traded fund by assets, “select from a range of third-party voting policies, including the policies offered by Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis, in addition to the option to continue to vote according to the BlackRock Investment Stewardship policy.” Read More


Insightia: Activists Cool on Nominating Women Directors

New research by Insightia reveals that activists are increasingly nominating fewer women director candidates to board positions, pointing out that only 11 women candidates nominated by activists have gained board seats and that big-name firms like Carl Icahn and Elliott have yet to nominate a single woman so far this year. Read More

M&A & IPOs

Bloomberg: Activision, Microsoft Extend Closing on $69 Billion Deal

Activision and Microsoft have reached an agreement to extend the closing deadline on their deal to October, giving the companies an additional three months to settle any lingering regulatory obstacles to closing the $69bn acquisition, write Edward Ludlow, Dina Bass, and Cecilia D'Anastasio. Read More

Reuters: Broadcom's $69 bln VMware Deal Wins Provisional UK Clearance

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority signaled it plans to approve Broadcom's proposed $69bn takeover of the cloud computing company VMware. Read More

The Deal: OpEd: Taking Advantage of Time in Dealmaking

An op-ed by corporate and M&A partners at Paul Weiss looks at transaction timing and the critical role it can play in dealmaking. Read More


Fortune: The War on Deals: Why the Biden Administration is Battling Big Business—and Putting All Sorts of Deals Under the Microscope

Jessica Mathews examines the FTC's "aggressive" stance on merger activity and suggests that the commission will likely look to start launching more regulatory challenges against private equity deals. Read More

Bloomberg Law: Visa, Mastercard Hit with Antitrust Suit Over Credit Card Fees

Mastercard and Visa are among the companies being sued in an antitrust case arguing that credit card providers significantly upcharged payments made on Block Inc.'s Square platform, writes Katie Arcieri. Read More


Bloomberg: BlackRock Appoints CEO of Oil Giant Aramco to Its Board

Silla Brush reports that BlackRock has appointed Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser to its board and details the various investors' reactions to news and what it means for the asset managers future ESG commitments. Read More

CNBC: Yale’s Jeff Sonnenfeld: BlackRock CEO Larry Fink ‘Is Swinging Like a Pendulum’ with Aramco News

Yale School of Management Professor Jeff Sonnenfeld reacts to the news that BlackRock added Saudi Aramco's CEO to its Board, arguing the decision is likely "confusing a lot of people" about the asset manager's ESG commitments. Read More


We stopped by for a drink and apps at the bar of newly opened Mischa, conveniently located at Lexington and 53rd very close to the offices of GPP (by the way, we moved two floors up – to the sixth floor of 485 Madison Ave. at 52nd).

As NYT restaurant columnist Pete Wells wrote this week, it’s “one of the year’s most inventive restaurants” that he dubbed “Barbie and Oppenheimer.” It’s comfort food, it’s cool, it has a $29 hot dog. (We didn’t indulge in that since we are taking our interns to Citifield next week and will limit our dog-eating until then). It has everything from kasha varnishkes—like grandma made and lobster rolls—grandma didn’t make those—to fried chicken. We stuck with appetizers for the first go-round, and had the deviled egg “floating island,” tuna poke bowl, and duck and foie gras made into a slice of mortadella. The wine list is inventive, with a nod to Eastern Europe (Armenia) and Czech Republic, but also some favorites from Trentino-Alto Adige (Nusserhof Lagrein rose, which we visited last year) and the Finger Lakes (Bloomer Creek). Midtowners, give it a try, it is also open for lunch.

Speaking of ‘Barbenheimer’, GPPers are gearing up to go to the cinema this weekend for the long-awaited (and internet-sensation) double-feature of Greta Gerwig’s whimsical and very pink romp “Barbie” and Christopher Nolan’s historical and very brooding drama “Oppenheimer.” We’ve got our popcorn ready. 


  • Salesforce announced that well-known Wachtell partner Sabastian Niles was being appointed as its new President and Chief Legal Officer. Niles worked closely with Salesforce and many other companies fending off activists targeting the tech company. Read More

  • We at GPP join many in the media world outraged by the wrongful detention of Wall Street Journal Russia reporter Evan Gerschkovich by the hands of the Kremlin. The National Press Club drew attention to his plight by having journalists, family members and others publicly read aloud his journalism over a 24-hour period. Learn More and share on social media. 

  • Warburg Pincus has announced Jeffrey Perlman will replace former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner as President. Geithner will transition into the chairman role. Read More

  • Roland Phillips has joined PJT Partners for consumer dealmaking from Centerview Partners. Read More

  • Marie Beaudette was named finance coverage chief at the Wall Street Journal, responsible for the Journal’s coverage of financial news. Read More
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