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Dancing With Activists

Author

Listed:
  • Lucian A. Bebchuk
  • Alon Brav
  • Wei Jiang
  • Thomas Keusch

Abstract

An important milestone often reached in the life of an activist engagement is entering into a “settlement” agreement between the activist and the target’s board. Using a comprehensive hand-collected data set, we analyze the drivers, nature, and consequences of such settlement agreements. Settlements are more likely when the activist has a credible threat to win board seats in a proxy fight and when incumbents’ reputation concerns are stronger. Consistent with incomplete contracting, face-saving benefits and private information considerations, settlements commonly do not contract directly on operational or leadership changes sought by the activist but rather on board composition changes. Settlements are accompanied by positive stock price reactions, and they are subsequently followed by changes of the type sought by activists, including CEO turnover, higher shareholder payouts, and improved operating performance. We find no evidence to support concerns that settlements enable activists to extract rents at the expense of other investors. Our analysis provides a look into the “black box” of activist engagements and contributes to understanding how activism brings about changes in target companies.

Suggested Citation

  • Lucian A. Bebchuk & Alon Brav & Wei Jiang & Thomas Keusch, 2019. "Dancing With Activists," NBER Working Papers 26171, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26171
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Kim, Sehoon, 2020. "Disappearing Discounts: Hedge Fund Activism in Conglomerates," MPRA Paper 100876, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Gantchev, Nickolay & Sevilir, Merih & Shivdasani, Anil, 2020. "Activism and empire building," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 138(2), pages 526-548.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G35 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Payout Policy
    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • K22 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Business and Securities Law

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