NEW YORK (Reuters) – Hedge funds pushing for change in corporations increased their demands for splits and asset sales last year, making them part of almost half of all investor activist campaigns undertaken in 2019, according to data published on Wednesday.
"99 record campaigns were launched with a thesis related to mergers and acquisitions in 2019," said Jim Rossman, chief of shareholder advice at Lazard, who compiled the statistics. Calls for companies to sell directly or for certain units to divest accounted for 47% of last year's activity, compared with 35% in previous years, Rossman said.
Some of the most notable merger and acquisition plays last year include Carl Icahn pressing for Hewlett Packard to accept an offer to acquire Xerox. Icahn owns shares in both companies.
Icahn also pressed for a strategic review at Caesars that was later purchased by Eldorado Resorts.
At AT&T, Elliott Management urged the company to consider the sale of certain parts of its business. Elliott also asked Marathon Petroleum to separate before the company split its Speedway unit.
The increase came when the activist funds obtained their best returns in years, registering an average yield of 18.3% in 2019, according to Hedge Fund Research data.
Activism has recovered dramatically since the financial crisis of 2008. But it was popular much earlier, even in the period between the 1970s and the late 1980s, when financiers, including Carl Icahn and Nelson Peltz, were called corporate invaders by Hard hand tactics used to replace senior management and improve shareholder value.
According to Lazard statistics, activists also changed their focus abroad with more non-US companies.
Last year, non-US targets accounted for 40% of all campaigns, compared to 30% in 2015. Among other destinations, they conducted 19 campaigns in Japan, and Third Point returned for a second momentum of changes at Sony.
Svea Herbst-Bayliss report; Edition by Kenneth Maxwell
. (tagsToTranslate) EE. UU. (t) COVERAGE FUNDS (t) ACTIVISM (t) Japan (t) Capital investments (t) Oil and gas refining and marketing (TRBC) (t) Hedge funds (t) Divestments / Spin (t) Offs ( t) Asia / Pacific (t) United States (t) Computer hardware (TRBC) (t) Asset management (t) Funds (t) Company news (t) Wireless telecommunications services (TRBC) (t) Support services Commercial (TRBC) (t) Real estate markets (t) Investment management and fund operators (TRBC)