Elliott’s Cohn Says Aloha to Benioff, but Cuts Him No Slack

The streak of big-name activists going after big-name companies in 2023 continues after the Wall Street Journal’s Lauren Thomas reported Elliott Management’s multibillion-dollar investment in Salesforce. On Thursday afternoon, Thomas followed up with another scoop that Elliott is planning to nominate a slate of directors. The news coincided with Bloomberg’s story that Salesforce is considering appointing new board members – including Mason Morfit, CEO of ValueAct.

Elliott joins fellow heavyweights Starboard, which entered the stock last October, and Inclusive Capital’s Jeff Ubben who held talks with CEO Marc Benioff this week. Of note, Elliott and Starboard have worked together in the past when the pair of activists pushed out the CEO at eBay. 


In other activism news, Bloomberg’s Alexander Kell reports that pharmaceutical giant Bayer, which is also feeling the pressure from multiple activists – including Elliott and Inclusive Capital – is dealing with criticism from one if its largest shareholders, Union Investment. The criticism centers around a perceived lack of dialogue with investors and more action to create value for shareholders.  


Shifting gears, to Bloomberg’s Matt Levine’s surprise (and everyone else’s), Elon Musk’s infamous tweet to take Tesla private at $420 per share apparently wasn’t a weed joke. The Tesla CEO took the stand to defend himself in a lawsuit accusing him of defrauding investors after he falsely claimed in a 2018 tweet to have secured funding to take the EV company private. When the stock subsequently cratered after a deal never materialized, a number of investors weren’t laughing after major losses.  


Finally, as some predicted, Elon Musk is reportedly engaging investors to raise up to $3 billion by selling new Twitter shares. As the Wall Street Journal's Berber Jin and Alexander Saeedy report, the capital would be used to pay down some of the company’s $13 billion debt byproduct from Musk’s takeover. Meanwhile, Twitter said it is hemorrhaging $4 million in losses a day as advertisers flee the platform. 


Have a great weekend, 

GPP Team 


Wall Street Journal: Elliott Prepares to Nominate Slate of Directors at Salesforce

After revealing a multi-billion dollar stake in the company, Elliott is reportedly preparing to nominate a number of different directors to Salesforce's board. Read More

Bloomberg: Salesforce Considers Adding New Board Members as Activists Circle

As activists pile into the company, Ed Hammond reports that Salesforce is considering adding new board members – including Mason Morfit, CEO of ValueAct. Read More

Wall Street Journal: Elliott Management Takes Big Stake in Salesforce

Lauren Thomas and Laura Cooper report that Elliott, one of the heaviest hitters in the industry, has taken a multibillion-dollar stake in Salesforce. Read More

CNBC: Jeff Ubben Speaks with Salesforce CEO as More Activists Target the Software Giant 

Already facing pressure from multiple activist investors, Yun Li reports that Inclusive Capital’s Jeff Ubben has engaged in talks with Salesforce Co-CEO Marc Benioff. Read More 

Bloomberg: Bayer Holder Criticizes Supervisory Board Chair, WiWo Says 

While the company is already under attack from multiple activist investors, Bayer’s Chairman Norbert Winkeljohann is also receiving criticism from Union Investment, one of the company’s largest shareholders. Read More 

Bloomberg’s Money Stuff: Elon Musk Never Jokes 

Elon Musk’s 2018 tweet claiming he secured funding to take Tesla private for $420, was, apparently, “not a joke.” Matt Levine dives into the details of Elon Musk’s securities fraud trial. Read More 


CLS Blue Sky Blog: SEC Issues Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2022-2026 

SEC Chair Gary Gensler shares the agency's goals for the next three years, including heightened emphasis on fraud enforcement, updating regulatory frameworks to keep up with new technologies and advancing internal DE&I initiatives. Read More 

Financial Times: Bill Ackman Takes Stake in Bremont After Buying its Watches 

Ortenca Aliaj reports that activist investor Bill Ackman has taken a minority stake in the British luxury watch brand Bremont, though he will not push for any changes. A sign Ackman may be serious about last year’s announcement of more low-key investing. Read More  

Bloomberg: BlackRock Asks UK Wealth Firms to Pilot Share Voting Program 

Loukia Gyftopoulou and Silla Brush report on a new pilot program sponsored by BlackRock that will allow end investors to utilize the universal proxy’s voting provisions. Read More 

Viewsroom Podcast: Why Retail Bankers are Beating Dealmakers 

Aimee Donnellan, John Foley and Liam Proud discuss how global geopolitical and macroeconomic risks are largely disrupting the dealmaking landscape while retail banking continues to thrive. Listen Here 


Wachtell Lipton’s Corporate Governance Update: ESG in 2023: Politics and Polemics 

David Katz and Laura McIntosh report on the increased politicization of ESG policies. Their memo stresses that strong corporate governance practices now require proactive management and surveillance of both ESG disclosure requirements and ESG-related controversies. Read More  

CEO Daily: Coca-Cola and Novartis CEOs on ESG Toxicity 

As ESG becomes an increasingly divisive acronym, Alan Murray examines how leaders at Davos expressed their continued commitment to sustainability and ESG-related initiatives. Read More  

Institutional Investor: Private Equity Exits Increasingly Hinge on ESG 

ESG due diligence has become one of the most important components private equity firms must consider when preparing for an exit, reports Grace Chung, and the process can oftentimes be lengthy and time consuming. Read More 


Mergermarket and The Deal have published their 2022 PR advisory deal rankings and GPP stands among the top 20 in value and number of deals advised on. In the Americas, GPP ranked #18 by deal value at Mergermarket and #13 in deal count at The Deal. Not to brag, but after crunching some numbers, when you consider deal value on a per employee basis, our little GPP punches above its weight at #1. 


Lastly, the GPP offices have been ringing out with the music of The Byrds, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young as we memorialize the loss of the singer-songwriter David Crosby. For the older crowd at GPP, it came one week after the death of one of rock’s greatest guitarist, Jeff Beck. Nothing like working on key messages listening to Beck’s Barabajagal


  • Cathal Deasy will join Barclay’s as their co-head of Global Banking. Read More  


  • Richard Dreiling, formerly CEO of Dollar General, is set to take over as CEO of rival Dollar Tree. Read More  


  • Toyota is switching lanes as Akio Toyoda will step down as CEO to be replaced by Koji Sato, the company's Chief Branding Officer and Lexus President. Read More 

  • The Information has hired Rachel Graf to their finance team where she will cover private equity. Read More  
Let us know if you have any comments or suggestions for our newsletter format.
Follow us on Twitter @GladstonePlace
Please feel free to forward this along.
Gladstone Place Partners | (212) 230-5930 | gladstoneplace.com
Facebook  Twitter  Linkedin