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The Activist Investing Annual Review 2021, produced by Activist Insight in association with Schulte Roth & Zabel (SRZ), has been released. The review analyzes trends in shareholder activism, ranks the top 10 activist investors and provides predictions for the year ahead.

Highlights from the 2021 review include:

  • COVID-19 had a big impact on the number of campaigns activists pursued. The number of companies publicly subjected to activist demands worldwide fell 10% in 2020, while the number of board seats won by activists fell 16%.
  • Activists that went the distance were rewarded. The number of board seats gained by activists in contested meetings at U.S. companies increased 57% to the highest number in at least six years, thanks to several control slate contests.
  • Companies showed a willingness to fight back. There were 60 new poison pills implemented at Russell 3000 companies in 2020, as many as in the past four years combined.

Click here for a PDF of the review.

Marc Weingarten, co-chair of the firm’s global Shareholder Activism Group and Ele Klein, chair of the M&A and Securities Group, co-chair of the global Shareholder Activism Group and a member of the firm’s Executive Committee, contributed expert commentary to the review. The publication also features interviews with Jim McNally, London-based shareholder activism, corporate and funds partner, Gayle Klein, SRZ partner and co-chair of the Litigation Group, and Owen Schmidt, SRZ partner in the Investment Management Group.

“Though COVID-19 impacted the market in many ways, activity has been strong recently. Some of the changes we have experienced such as virtual meetings and remote interactions may last, but we expect activism to continue to grow in the coming months,” said Mr. Klein. “The resurgence of the domestic economy and the continuing disarray abroad should present an exciting time in activist engagement. We’re looking forward to participating in the new normal,” commented Mr. Weingarten.

“We are thrilled to again partner with Activist Insight to release our latest Activist Investing Annual Review,” said David Efron, SRZ co-managing partner and co-head of the Investment Management Group. “The annual review offers valuable insights on current trends and future projections in the shareholder activism industry,” commented Marc Elovitz, SRZ co-managing partner and chair of the Investment Management Regulatory & Compliance Group.

Josh Black, editor-in-chief of Insightia, said, “Many activists paused their activities in the first half of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic led to a reassessment of the strategy. However, institutional support for comprehensive changes at severely troubled companies, emerging gaps between the best performers and new laggards, and a rising market combined to create a strong fourth quarter and cautious optimism about activist opportunities in 2021.”

The Activist Investing Annual Review 2021 also features “The Activist Top 10.” Activist Insight compiled the list based on the number of companies publicly subjected to activist demands, average size of targets, news stories generated and annualized total returns.

“The Activist Top 10” for 2021 are:

  1. Starboard Value
  2. Elliott Management
  3. Saba Capital Management
  4. ValueAct Capital Partners
  5. Amber Capital
  6. Sachem Head Capital Management
  7. Oasis Management
  8. Third Point Partners
  9. Cevian Capital
  10. Asset Value Investors (AVI)

About Insightia/Activist Insight

Financial news and data providers Activist Insight and Proxy Insight announced in October 2020 that they had merged to form Insightia, a leader in the field of public company information. Since 2012, Activist Insight ( has provided its diverse range of clients with the most comprehensive information on activist investing worldwide. Regularly quoted in the financial press, Activist Insight is the trusted source for data in this evolving space and offers a range of modules including: Activist Insight Online, Activist Insight Governance, Activist Insight Vulnerability, Activist Insight Shorts, Activist Insight Monthly magazine, and The Activist Insight Podcast. Proxy Insight has quickly become the world’s leading source of information on global shareholder voting, covering such hot topics as director and auditor elections, “say on pay” resolutions and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) proposals.

About SRZ’s Global Shareholder Activism Group

SRZ is widely regarded as the dominant global law firm for shareholder activism. We bring to each matter a sophisticated knowledge of market practices, vast experience and unparalleled expertise in all areas of law impacting activism. SRZ has more than 30 years of experience advising clients on more than 1,000 shareholder activism matters, making us one of the most experienced advisers to activists in the world.

SRZ assists with all matters relating to activism, including campaign strategies, corporate governance, proxy rules, trading and affiliate rules, Sections 13 and 16 compliance, antitrust regulations, federal and state securities and corporate laws, tax and regulatory issues and litigation. Our lawyers work with clients on a variety of activist strategies, including behind-the-scenes long-term partnerships between activists and management, proxy contests, board and management changes, consent solicitations, special meetings and withhold campaigns, M&A activism, exempt solicitations, regulatory approvals, investigations and legislative hearings, corporate governance improvements, defensive and offensive litigation, spin-offs, split-offs, divestitures and buybacks, and ESG. To visit SRZ’s Shareholder Activism Resource Center, click here.