IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Returns to Shareholder Activism


  • Marco Becht
  • Julian Franks
  • Colin Mayer
  • Stefano Rossi


This article reports a unique analysis of private engagements by an activist fund. It is based on data made available to us by Hermes, the fund manager owned by the British Telecom Pension Scheme (BTPS), on engagements with management in companies targeted by its U.K. Focus Fund (HUKFF). In contrast with most previous studies of activism, we report that the fund executes shareholder activism predominantly through private interventions that would be unobservable in studies purely relying on public information. The fund substantially outperforms benchmarks and we estimate that abnormal returns are largely associated with engagements rather than stock picking. We categorize the engagements and measure their impact on the returns of target companies and the fund. We find that Hermes frequently seeks and achieves significant changes in the company’s strategy including refocusing on the core business and returning cash to shareholders, and changes in the executive management including the replacement of the CEO or chairmen.

Suggested Citation

  • Marco Becht & Julian Franks & Colin Mayer & Stefano Rossi, 2008. "Returns to Shareholder Activism," OFRC Working Papers Series 2008fe07, Oxford Financial Research Centre.
  • Handle: RePEc:sbs:wpsefe:2008fe07

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Simeon Djankov & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2002. "The Regulation of Entry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 1-37.
    2. repec:hrv:faseco:30747190 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Fonseca, Raquel & Lopez-Garcia, Paloma & Pissarides, Christopher A., 2001. "Entrepreneurship, start-up costs and employment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 692-705, May.
    4. Oren Bar-Gill & Michal Barzuza & Lucian Bebchuk, 2006. "The Market for Corporate Law," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 162(1), pages 134-160, March.
    5. Daines, Robert, 2001. "Does Delaware law improve firm value?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 525-558, December.
    6. Roberta Romano, 1998. "Empowering Investors: A Market Approach to Securities Regulation," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm74, Yale School of Management.
    7. Romano, Roberta, 1985. "Law as a Product: Some Pieces of the Incorporation Puzzle," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(2), pages 225-283, Fall.
    8. Kahan, Marcel & Kamar, Ehud, 2002. "The Myth of State Competition in Corporate Law," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt3xq7p9xw, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
    9. Guhan Subramanian, 2004. "The Disappearing Delaware Effect," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(1), pages 32-59, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Henrik Cronqvist & Rüdiger Fahlenbrach, 2009. "Large Shareholders and Corporate Policies," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(10), pages 3941-3976, October.
    2. Lucian A. Bebchuk & Michael S. Weisbach, 2010. "The State of Corporate Governance Research," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(3), pages 939-961, March.
    3. Neil Conway & Simon Deakin & Suzanne Konzelmann & Héloïse Petit & Antoine Rebérioux & Frank Wilkinson, 2008. "The Influence of Stock Market Listing on Human Resource Management: Evidence for France and Britain," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 46(4), pages 631-673, December.
    4. Gantchev, Nickolay, 2013. "The costs of shareholder activism: Evidence from a sequential decision model," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(3), pages 610-631.

    More about this item


    Shareholder activism; institutional investors; real authority;

    JEL classification:

    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sbs:wpsefe:2008fe07. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Maxine Collett). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.