ESG Finds Foothold in Activism Campaigns on Oil, Gas, and Frappuccinos 

ESG may be the word that shall no longer be named, but two public campaigns show that there could be more ESG-related activism in 2024.


Oil and gas giant Shell faces renewed calls from activist groups who want more action on the company’s energy transition strategy. Amundi, Europe’s largest asset manager, and 26 other investors are demanding that Shell go beyond its current climate commitments, which the company says are “already Paris-aligned,” to include, among other things, Scope 3 emissions. The resolution is the “most significant shareholder push on climate policy faced by Shell.” This is the second year in a row Shell has faced virtually the same shareholder resolution, which garnered support from roughly 20% of shareholders.


Labor is another hot topic, the S in ESG. Bloomberg’s ESG Currents podcast covers the Strategic Organizing Center’s (SOC) activist campaign against Starbucks. Tejal Patel, corporate governance director at SOC, noted that “the company’s labor issues continue to threaten Starbuck’s shareholder value.” Despite having a minimal financial stake in the company, Patel believes the SOC’s message of increased governance has resonated with other shareholders and will make a difference in its proxy battle.  


Increased activism has been brewing in corporate Japan. Bloomberg’s Lisa Du and Yasutaka Tamura write that activists are “back with a vengeance” as the total market value of targeted Japanese companies doubled to almost $252 billion last year and will likely increase again this year. On Tuesday, amid concerns about increased activism, the Tokyo Stock Exchange released a long-awaited list meant to showcase which companies have taken steps to improve capital efficiency strategies. However, Reuters Breakingviews noted that just 40% of prime-listed Japanese firms made the list – meaning activists could still find a large number of Japanese companies that are ripe for shareholder value campaigns.

And if this snowy, cold week in New York City has you thinking you wish you were in Davos, check out Brian Sozzi’s coverage of the World Economic Forum over at Yahoo! Finance. Highlights include interviews with Steven Schwarzman and PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta.

Have a great weekend, 

GPP Team 


Activist Investing Today Podcast: Activism’s Power Couple Discuss Marriage, ESG, M&A

Ron Orol is joined by Perella Weinberg’s Jillian Alsheimer and husband Sebastian, a partner at Wilson Sonsini, who discuss their careers and the evolving landscape of shareholder activism, including the potential trend of celebrities as board nominees in single-issue activism scenarios. Listen Here

Reuters: Walt Disney Makes Its Case for Rejecting Activist Shareholder

Dawn Chmielewski and Svea Herbst-Bayliss highlight Disney’s preliminary proxy outlining why the company opposes the board nominees by activist investors Trian and Blackwells Capital. Read More

Lex: Activists’ Interest Suggests UK Market Has a Management Problem

The FT highlights data on activism in the UK, marking it as the biggest hotspot for activist campaigns in Europe for the seventh consecutive year, largely due to more open share registers and publicly traded companies and fewer individual shareholders wielding significant voting power. Read More


Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance: Key Considerations for the 2024 Proxy Season

Partners at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP highlight relevant SEC guidance updates, including pay-versus-performance disclosure clarifications and 2023 shareholder proposal trends ahead of the 2024 proxy season. Read More

The Wall Street Journal: A Turbulent Year May Lie Ahead—CEOs at Davos Are Optimistic

Chip Cutter and Emily Glazer discuss the feeling of optimism among CEOs and business leaders at WEF, many of whom express confidence in the U.S. economy’s resilience even in the face of global conflicts and economic uncertainties. Read More

M&A & IPOs

CLS Blue Sky Blog: Skadden Discusses Merger Enforcement and New Deal Strategies

Skadden provides an overview of recent shifts in merger enforcement under the Biden administration, highlighting new, more aggressive guidelines and proposed changes to HSR notification requirements. Read More

The Wall Street Journal: Fashion Giant Faces New IPO Hitch: China’s Cybersecurity Police

Liza Lin and Raffaele Huang report on China's cybersecurity review of Shein's data practices, a critical step as the fashion giant seeks approval for its planned IPO in the U.S. Read More

Axios: Judge Blocks JetBlue Takeover of Spirit Airlines

Dan Primack reports on a federal judge's decision to block JetBlue's $3.8 billion proposed acquisition of Spirit Airlines. Read More

Reuters Breakingviews: General Atlantic Buys Infrastructure for its IPO

Pamela Barbaglia reports that General Atlantic is acquiring Actis as part of a strategic move to diversify and strengthen its position for a potential U.S. IPO. Read More


Money Stuff: Making ESG a Crime

Bloomberg’s Matt Levine discusses a bill proposed by New Hampshire Republican lawmakers that would criminalize the use of ESG criteria in state funds, criticizing the logic behind penalizing investment managers for considering factors like corporate governance in their investment strategy. Read More

CLS Blue Sky Blog: How Emphasizing ESG Affects Firm Value

Marketing academics delve into the complexities of ESG investing, revealing that an increased focus on nonmaterial ESG factors can significantly decrease firm value and underscoring the importance of distinguishing between material and nonmaterial ESG. Read More


GPPers returned from Down Under this week, where we strolled through kangaroo-peppered vineyards in Australia’s increasingly popular wine region, Hunter Valley (home of an award-winning Semillon), sun-bathed on its famous Bondi and Manly beaches, and spent mornings sipping flat whites in its alleged birthplace of Sydney. While in the area, we hopped over to the geologic phenomenon that is New Zealand, venturing to its mysteriously foggy fjords in Milford Sound, glacial lakes, geysers, and snow-topped Mount Cook. And of course, we had to visit Hobbiton, the setting of Frodo and Bilbo’s hobbit-hole hometown in The Lord of the Rings.


  • Former Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg announced she will step down from the company's board of directors in May. Read More

  • BP has named interim CEO Murray Auchincloss as permanent CEO. Read More

  • Bloomberg reporter Simone Foxman will now cover how companies are handling social and cultural issues. Foxman was previously a Middle East correspondent at Bloomberg. Read More

  • Pamela Barbaglia is joining Bloomberg's deals team in London. She is currently a columnist on Reuters’ Breakingviews team. 
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