Relations are frosty between activist hedge fund Blackwells Capital and Trian Fund Management. Blackwells isn’t pulling any punches after calling out Nelson Peltz for his “ego-driven campaign” against the Walt Disney Company, in which Blackwells is also a shareholder. The press release went further, stating that Peltz’s efforts haven’t served the interests of long-term shareholders and pointed to Trian’s involvement in Wendy’s. Reuters reporter Svea Herbst-Bayliss revealed that Blackwells is planning to nominate several directors to Wendy's 12-member board. Trian owns a 16% stake in the company and has been accused of “nepotism” for adding his son and friends to Wendy’s board.
While it was a busy 2023 for many activists, that’s not the case for Jeff Ubben’s Inclusive Capital Partners. Ubben, who co-founded ValueAct Capital in 2000 and departed in 2020 to start Inclusive, is closing up the ESG-focused shop. Ubben acknowledged, according to the Financial Times’ Ortenca Aliaj, Antoine Gara and Patrick Temple-West, that “many investors have likely lost confidence in the...investment strategy and/or our ability to successfully execute the strategy.” Others pointed to what they perceived as Ubben’s alienation of the ESG community by investing in oil companies like ExxonMobil as the cause of its demise.
Meantime, M&A activity has ballooned in recent months, according to Insider. Matthew Fox reported that more than $170 billion in deals have been announced since October, suggesting the Biden Administration’s strict stance on corporate M&A hasn’t deterred dealmakers. Both Insider and Breakingviews are calling for more M&A to come, evidenced by Alaska Airlines’ high-flying $1.9 billion acquisition of Hawaiian Airlines.
Venture capitalists have joined arms in a public condemnation of the FTC’s efforts to stimy dealmaking, according to Fortune’s Jessica Matthews. More than 25 VC firms back an amicus brief that was filed earlier this year around the agency’s campaign to block the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard transaction. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear the FTC argue in its latest attempt to block the deal, which the VCs say would harm the “broader ecosystem.” Yale Professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, in a Fortune op-ed, took it one step further claiming Biden’s FTC is “hurting U.S. competitiveness and destroying billions of dollars in value.”
Have a great weekend,