Shareholder Activism: A European Perspective

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In recent years, there has been significant growth in shareholder activism. These “activist shareholders” are fund managers (typically hedge funds) who usually acquire minority interests in listed public companies and then actively seek to influence the board of the company with a view to generating profits for themselves and other shareholders.

This increase has been driven in part by the success that activist shareholders have enjoyed. These activist shareholders are increasingly looking for targets in Europe as well as in their traditional US market.

In practice, the expression “activist shareholder” covers a broad range of strategies, ranging from hostile and even litigious battles with the company in question, through to constructive and consensual discussions with the company’s board.
For their part, companies need to understand and to engage with activist shareholders and to be familiar with the legal tools available to help them resist approaches that will not benefit the company and its shareholders as a whole.

Each European jurisdiction has its own characteristics and, to some extent, its own laws. The attached publication aims to explain the landscape across Europe’s main markets, and to highlight the key differences in each of those markets.