Loeb vs. Bath & Body Works – It Just Makes Scents

Neither Bath & Body Works’ Pink Pineapple Sunrise Candle nor its Eucalyptus Spearmint Lotion appear to be relaxing Third Point’s Dan Loeb, who signaled his intent to launch a proxy fight with the retail chain. The retailer’s addition of two new board members in the last two weeks appears unsatisfactory to Loeb, who cites “corporate governance shortcomings” as his motivation behind the proxy fight. The company fired back, affirming its commitment to enhancing shareholder value and noted that 75% of the board is made up of members who joined since 2019. 


In December, Third Point disclosed a 6% stake in the company and, according to Loeb, talks turned negative before his firm announced plans to nominate directors of its own. News of Third Point’s stake comes on the heels of its entry into Salesforce, adding to the swarm of activists launching recent campaigns against some household names. As 13D Monitor’s Ken Squire put it to CNBC’s Scott Wapner, the recent spike in activity is “incredible” and he hasn’t “seen activism like this for ten or fifteen years.” Insightia's latest Shareholder Activism Annual Review report confirms this, noting that the number of public companies targeted by activists globally increased 6% YoY to 929 last year.


Outside of activist aromas in the fragrance department, the Journal’s Corrie Driebusch and Laura Cooper shed light on the ongoing take-private trend, focusing on 10 companies that went public during the IPO boom in 2020 and 2021, such as Casper, McAfee and Weber. Now, private equity investors and buyout firms are sitting on cash and looking to put that money to work. Some of the companies, such as KnowBe4 Inc, which announced its intentions to go private in October, have higher valuations than at their IPOs. The FT’s Sujeet Indap suggests that the benefits of private ownership may also extend to management, especially in an environment in which activists are waiting in the wings. He cites a recent study and concludes that “some CEOs prefer answering to one private equity owner with a single vision for a company supported by an active board.” 


Microsoft President Brad Smith shipped off to Brussels this week for a European Commission hearing, during which he defended the company’s proposed $69B deal to acquire video game developer Activision Blizzard. Smith battled back against rival Sony’s claims that Activision games, including the popular Call of Duty franchise, will be restricted to Microsoft’s Xbox consoles, writes BBC’s Zoe Kleinman. Microsoft followed the hearing by announcing it had signed agreements with Nintendo and Nvidia granting both access to Call of Duty games for a decade if the deal is approved.


Have a great weekend,

GPP Team


The Wall Street Journal: Third Point to Launch Proxy Fight at Bath & Body Works

Laura Cooper reports on Dan Loeb’s first proxy fight since 2018 as his firm Third Point plans to nominate Board candidates over “excessive executive pay and lagging financial performance.” Read More

Insightia: Shareholder Activism Annual Review 2023

For its annual report, Insightia teamed up with Olshan Frome Wolosky to examine trends in the shareholder activism space, including ongoing regulatory changes and ESG issues, and delve into the most effective activist campaigns of 2022. Read More

The Wall Street Journal: Going Private Again Is All the Rage Among Newly Public Companies

Corrie Driebusch and Laura Cooper detail the rising trend of recently listed companies such as Weber, Casper Sleep and KnowBe4 "racing back to private ownership" due to the rising cash piles at private equity firms. Read More

The Financial Times: The Appeal for Executives of Having Private Equity Owners

Sujeet Indap explores the different relationships between Chief Executives and their major shareholders, focusing on the discrepancies felt by CEOs backed by private equity firms versus CEOs of public companies. Read More

Reuters: Microsoft's President to Push Activision Deal at EU Hearing; Google, Nvidia Also Present

Foo Yun Chee reports on the hearing in Brussels where a wide range of executives from gaming and technology companies and regulators from the EU heard Microsoft’s argument in favor of their proposed acquisition of Activision. Read More


Breakingviews: K-Pop Showdown Amplifies Shareholder Voices

Robyn Mak chronicles the behind-the-scenes familial showdowns and unexpected consequences surrounding the ongoing corporate fight over SM Entertainment, which is on-track to be Korea’s largest-ever hostile takeover. Read More

CLS Blue Sky Blog: The Determinants and Consequences of Appointing Activist Directors

Scholars from the University of Melbourne, National University of Singapore and Harvard Business School investigate the impact of activist-appointed directors. Their findings: they’re younger, more demanding, and lead to more divestitures, fewer acquisitions and lower capital expenditures. Read More


Chicago Booth: Taxing Stock Buybacks

In a recent survey, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business posed a number of questions to legal and financial scholars regarding corporate stock buybacks. The questions surrounded the efficacy of buybacks and what taxes on buybacks might entail. Read More

Boardroom Governance with Evan Epstein: Ann Lipton: "The Twitter v. Musk Case is both a Vindication and a Condemnation of Corporate Law."

In this podcast, Ann Lipton joins Evan Epstein to discuss a wide array of legal topics, including the FTX debacle, Elon Musk’s “trial of the century that never was”, SPACs and the ever-evolving ESG landscape. Listen Here

Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance: Meme Corporate Governance

Academic colleagues from Yale, University of Michigan and Northwestern University elaborate on the “meme stock” phenomenon and examine the corporate governance structures of meme stock companies. Read More


The Closer: The Inside Story of Facebook’s Biggest Acquisition

Neeraj Arora, a former executive at WhatsApp, joins The Closer team to discuss Facebook’s 2014 acquisition of the chat service. The highest valuation for a venture-backed company, the deal was one of Silicon Valley’s most ambitious—and most impactful. Listen Here

Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance: IPOs and SPACs: Recent Developments

Rongbing Huang of Kennesaw State University, Jay R. Ritter of the University of Florida, and Donghang Zhang of the University of South Carolina detail how the IPO market has transformed in recent decades. Read More


MIT Sloan Management Review: What an FTC Noncompete Ban Could Mean for Workers and Businesses

Evan Starr and Kaushik Viswanath discuss the FTC’s potential decision to outlaw employee noncompete clauses and write that any potential ban would have major implications for the labor market. Read More

Bloomberg: Google Maps Face Renewed Scrutiny by DOJ's Antitrust Lawyers

Leah Nylen reports on the latest antitrust investigation into Alphabet—this time over accusations that the company is “bundling,” a practice that limits competition by making certain popular content accessible only through services provided by a given company. Read More


The Wall Street Journal: People of Color Fill One Out of Five Corporate Board Seats for the First Time

Joseph De Avila summarizes a new study from ISS Corporate Solutions which found that, for the first time in the nation’s history, ethnic minorities hold one fifth of corporate America’s board seats. Black directors have seen the greatest influx in representation, followed by those of Asian descent. Read More

The Financial Times: The Struggle for the Soul of the B Corp Movement

Anjli Raval reports on the waning legitimacy of the B Corp seal of approval, a status that at one time was the most coveted marker in the entire ESG realm. Read More


If you’re sick of having 25 different browser tabs open at once, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger’s new app Artifact may be the solution. The co-founders of Instagram are again flexing their entrepreneurial muscles with the launch of the platform. Although still in beta testing, Artifact aggregates users’ various news subscriptions and puts them into one central feed.

Can't wait for Season Four of “Succession?” GPP’s book club is reading the sizzling and salacious Unscripted: The Epic Battle for a Hollywood Media Empire. The book, from New York Times’ James B. Stewart and Rachel Abrams, details both the behind-the-scenes corporate boardroom and family drama of Sumner Redstone's twilight years, describing them as a "saga of sex, lies and betrayal." 


  • President Biden has nominated former Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga to be the next president of the World Bank. Read More


  • In addition to her role as head of newsletters at the Financial Times, Sarah Ebner will also serve as an executive editor at the outlet. Read More


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