Blackwells’ Beef with Wendy’s, Ubben Closes Up Shop, M&A on the Runway

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, 

GPP Team 


Reuters: Exclusive: Activist Investor Blackwells Plans Wendy's Board Challenge -Sources

A day after it publicly criticized and urged Nelson Peltz and Trian Fund Management to drop their "ego-driven" campaign against Disney, activist hedge fund Blackwells Capital is preparing to nominate three directors at Wendy's Co, reports Svea Herbst-Bayliss. Read More

Financial Times: Why Investors Failed to Embrace Jeff Ubben’s Inclusive Capital

Ortenca Aliaj, Antoine Gara and Patrick Temple-West analyze the reasons why Jeff Ubben's environmental and social investing-focused firm Inclusive Capital Partners is shutting down, including unprofitable bets and investments that alienated the ESG community. Read More

Business Insider: It Sure Looks Like Corporate America Isn't Afraid of Joe Biden Anymore

Mathew Fox suggests that the influx of recent M&A deal activity indicates that U.S. companies are showing more willingness to test the DOJ and FTC's antitrust policies. Read More

Reuters’ Breakingviews: Trustbusters Throw More Bad Money at Microsoft

Breakingviews' Jonathan Guilford argues that the FTC's aggressive moves to try and unwind Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard are misguided and that regulator's resources "are best directed elsewhere." Read More

CNBC: Alaska Air Reaches Deal to Buy Hawaiian Airlines

Alaska Airlines announced on Sunday that it has reached a deal to combine with Hawaiian Airlines in a roughly $1.9 billion all-cash deal, putting together two overlapping Pacific carriers and connecting Hawai'i to triple the destinations in the continental U.S. The CEOs of both companies appeared on CNBC with the details of the transaction. Watch

Fortune: Khosla, Tiger, NEA, and 24 Other VC Firms Warn of ‘Destructive’ Impact of FTC’s Current M&A Approach

On Wednesday, 27 different venture capital firms signed a statement arguing that the FTC's regulatory strategy is harming the broader financial ecosystem and limiting return on investments. Read More

Fortune: Competition Cop Lina Khan’s Antitrust Overreach is Hurting U.S. Competitiveness–and Destroying Billions of Dollars in Value

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, Professor and Founder of Yale School of Management’s Chief Executive Leadership Insitute (CELI) and Steve Tian, CELI Research Director, co-authored an op-ed in Fortune outlining how Biden’s FTC is undermining American competitiveness. Read More


The Wall Street Journal: Activist Nuns, With Stake in Smith & Wesson, Sue Gun Maker Over AR-15 Rifles

Cameron McWhirter and Zusha Elinson report that a group of activist nuns (yes you read correctly) who own a stake in Smith & Wesson filed a lawsuit to pressure the arms maker to change how it promotes, sells and makes AR-15 rifles. Read More


Harvard Law School Forum on Coporate Governance: Recent Trends in Board Composition and Refreshment in the Russell 3000 and S&P 500

Matteo Tonello of The Conference Board published data by the ESG data analytics firm ESGAUGE, in collaboration with Debevoise & Plimpton, the KPMG Board Leadership Center, Russell Reynolds Associates, and The John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware around recent trends in board compositions and refreshment for companies within the Russell 3000 and S&P 500. Read More

M&A & IPOs

Bloomberg: Roche to Buy Obesity Drug Maker Carmot for $3.1 Billion

Paula Doenecke reports that Roche Holding AG has agreed to a $3.1 billion deal to buy the weight-loss drug developer Carmot Therapeutics. Read More

The Information: IPO Class of 2024 Is Dominated by Older Startups

The Information's Cory Weinberg breaks down the potential "IPO Class of 2024" and points out that next year's list of IPO candidates largely consists of older tech startups like Reddit, StubHub, SeatGeek and Shein. Read More

Reuters: Exclusive: AbbVie Nears Roughly $8 Billion Deal for Drug Developer Cerevel-Sources

Only a week after AbbVie announced plans to buy ImmunoGen for $10 billion, David Carnevali reports that the company now also plans to acquire the neurological drugmaker Cervel Therapeutics Holdings in a roughly $8 billion deal. Read More

Bloomberg: Evercore’s Weinberg Sees M&A Rebound Next Year

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs financial services conference, Evercore CEO John Weinberg predicted that there will be a "rebound" in M&A activity next year as the market is waiting for "when the starting gun goes off", writes Todd Gillespie. Read More


On Thursday, GPPers traveled to the New York Stock Exchange to see where the magic happens and many of the greatest IPOs have launched. We got a behind-the-scenes tour of the beautiful building that houses the largest stock exchange in the world, as well as a sneak peek of CNBC’s set at Post 9. Some of the rooms were familiar locations where we have helped clients with Investor Days and listing day activities. Heading into the New Year, we are hopeful there is more to come on the IPO front, as the number of IPOs this year – 25 – is well below the average the NYSE typically sees each year.

With the holiday season upon us, it’s party time at GPP. This week, in honor of National Cookie Day, GPP hosted its inaugural Chocolate Chip Cookie Tasting where the very best bakeries In Manhattan, Brooklyn and even New Jersey were represented. The winners? Brooklyn’s Radio Bakery and Midtown’s Maman and Insomnia Cookies. The firm also gathered together for our annual end-of-year celebration at our CEO Steve’s house. Gifts and laughter were exchanged, wine and eggnog was sipped and an eventful 2023 was toasted. 


  • Cara Rubinsky has been named Global Business Editor for the Associated Press. Read More

  • Daria Mosolova has joined the Financial Times as part of their Paul McClean Trainee program that will see her cover consumer industries and media companies. Read More

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