Record pace of activist campaigns continues into 2023
13 Apr 2023
Activist shareholders are putting more pressure on corporate boards around the world. The number of newly launched campaigns globally already has hit a new high this year, according to our Investment Banking Shareholder Advisory Group’s Q1 2023 Review of Shareholder Activism.
The first three months of 2023 marked the busiest quarter for new shareholder activist campaigns, topping the previous record reached in Q1 2022.
There were 83 new campaigns globally in Q1, a 14% increase over the 73 new campaigns during the same quarter last year.
Activity is up in Europe and Asia, which now represent more than half of the global activity for the first time. In the U.S., however, activity is down with only 31 campaigns in Q1 2023, well below multi-year levels.
2. Setting their sights
Of campaigns launched in Q1, 27% targeted Industrial, 22% targeted Technology, and 15% targeted Financial companies. Collectively, these sectors received more than 60% of all campaigns.
Continuing a trend from 2022, large U.S. companies with market caps over $25 billion were common targets, accounting for 26% of U.S. campaigns.
The Retail, Real Estate, and Power & Utilities sectors saw the fewest number of campaigns in Q1.
3. Reshaping the corporate landscape
Activists are maintaining their demands for more M&A, even as the market for mergers and acquisitions has slowed and financing has become more difficult.
In Q1, 44% of activist campaigns put forth M&A demands. Breakups and divestures, as well as pressure to scuttle or sweeten deals were among the most prominent themes. That’s a switch from last year when agitating for a sale was the top theme.
4. Shaking up the board
Activists won 47 board seats in in Q1 2023, primarily through settlements. This marks a 24% increase over Q1 2022. Demands for board changes came in 45% of all global campaigns and 68% of all U.S. campaigns.
5. Changing the rules
New universal proxy rules took effect in the U.S. in August 2022, but it’s still too early to evaluate what effect they will have. So far in 2023, there have been no examples of their effect on settlements, proxy contest outcomes or single-issue candidates.
Meanwhile, companies and investors are still waiting for definitive guidance from the Securities and Exchange Commission on climate-disclosure rules. That guidance is due to come out later this year.
Curated market insights, delivered right to your inbox.
Please enter a valid email address
Please select a valid country of residence
I consent to my email address being used by Barclays to provide me with personalized advertisements on third-party websites and social media platforms, as described in our Privacy Notice.
*All fields required
*All fields required
Thank you for Subscribing
An email was sent to you at the address provided. Complete your subscription by clicking the link provided to verify your email address.
Sorry there was a problem. Unfortunately your subscription to our newsletter has encountered an error.
Email Cookie Preferences
Strictly Necessary Cookies
We use Strictly Necessary cookies to provide our email services to you. The data collected by these cookies is necessary for the emails we send to function. Data collected by these cookies is not used for marketing purposes. This category cannot be disabled.
Reporting & Analytics
We use Reporting & Analytics cookies to understand responses to the emails we send by receiving reporting and analytics data, which helps us to improve our services. This will help us to understand what content in our emails is opened and consumed.
We use Targeting cookies to provide the information that is most relevant to you. This enables future communications to be provided on the basis of what you have viewed from the previous email communications that you have received from us.