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Shareholder activism in Australia 2023: new report highlights changes in tactics and targets

Shareholder Activism
2022 11 16 ABL Lawyers 312

Global governance publication Insightia has just issued its latest report on shareholder activism in the Australasian market, with Arnold Bloch Leibler corporate and M&A partner Jeremy Leibler quoted throughout.

Corporate Governance Australia 2023 is the first report produced by Insightia since 2016 and, predictably, notes significant change in the tactics and targets of shareholder activists.

Editor Josh Black summarises the findings by observing that Australia boasts one of the most shareholder friendly regulatory environments in the world so it’s no surprise that this country ranked he third busiest market for activism in 2022, behind the US and Japan.

Jeremy is quoted in the opening article saying that the weakening of the Australian dollar has made companies all the more attractive to activists, while the drop in equity markets and underperformance help to distinguish the leaders from the laggards that have been riding the coattails of the bull market.

“Companies that are feeling vulnerable are, therefore, more likely to succumb to the demands of activists.”

Jeremy Leibler, Insightia Corporate Governance in Australia

In a section of the report focussed on the domination of environmental concerns in shareholder engagements with the energy and financial sectors, Jeremy is quoted commenting on the “influential campaign” waged by Mike Cannon-Brookes targeting AGL.

Describing the campaign as “unique”, Jeremy observed that Mike Cannon-Brookes is able to deploy large amounts of capital without needing to be accountable to other stakeholders. “He doesn’t need to balance the interests of short vs long term investors behind him. But I do think his success at AGL will inspire other funds in Australia to adopt ESG as a powerful tool to effect change.”

To read the full Insightia report, click here.

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