Shareholder Activism in Australia

Navigating the evolving landscape

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While the U.S. has historically been the primary focus of international activism activity, constituting nearly 80% of annual campaigns as recently as 2011, the number of international1 companies targeted by activist campaigns has significantly increased in recent years. In fact, 2015 saw new peaks in campaign volume, not only in the U.S., but also in Europe, Asia and Australia — where year-over-year activity grew by 63%, 37% and 8%, respectively.2

Bar chart for Shareholder activism campaigns in Australiaa
Bar chart showing Shareholder activism campaigns in Australiaa information
 
  • Sources: SharkRepellent, Activist Insight, Mergermarket, press articles as of Apr. 17, 2017. Represents the following campaign types: Board control and representation, enhance corporate governance, maximize shareholder value, remove director(s), remove officer(s) and vote/activism against a merger.

International activism is expected to increase and evolve, reminiscent of the strategy’s evolution in the U.S., where it outperformed as an asset class in the years following the global financial crisis. Among international companies, those in Australia, in particular, find themselves increasingly on the radar for activists looking to expand their influence.

A number of factors make Australia an opportune environment for activist investors, perhaps the most important one being its shareholder-friendly regulatory framework, which has supported the strategy’s arrival and subsequent growth in the region, and has been critical in strategic milestones, including:

This report analyzes the evolution of activism in Australia across these themes and offers best practices for companies to employ to mitigate activist risk.

How can companies prepare for activism?

  1. Communicate proactively and clearly with shareholders

  2. Think strategically about all external communications

  3. Proactively address corporate governance lightning rods

  4. Be ready to engage if and when activists show up


  1. 1 Defined as Europe, Asia and Australia.
  2. 2 Sources: FactSet, SharkRepellent, Activist Insight, Mergermarket, company filings, press articles as of April 17, 2017. Represents the following campaign types: board control and representation, enhance corporate governance, maximize shareholder value, remove director(s), remove officer(s) and vote/activism against a merger.

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