By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
By Neil Unmack and Jeffrey Goldfarb
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.
Bill Ackman looks decidedly closer to the holy grail of permanent capital. The founder of activist U.S. hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management is planning a London-listed vehicle with a market value of at least $4 billion. That would dwarf other public funds, many of which trade at a big discount to net asset value. Ackman’s scale, plus some fee sweeteners, may give him an edge. And his focus on easily priced bets could minimize the NAV problem.
Activist investors generally prefer to be on the attack. So it's odd to see them on the back foot, fighting to preserve an important arrow in their quiver. The Securities and Exchange Commission is weighing whether to curb uppity shareholders from quietly building stakes in companies. The battle should kick into high gear this week when the merger world's top lawyers and bankers hold their annual confab in New Orleans.
Activist shareholders are back -- and for good reason. As the proxy season heats up, pot-stirrers like Carl Icahn and Ron Burkle are raising a fuss at companies from biotech Genzyme to bookseller Barnes & Nobl. Easy pickings from the credit bubble bursting may be gone. But the activists remain a formidable bunch.