Setting the scene: the characteristics, causes and consequences of shareholder a ctivism
Shareholder activism used to be rare in Belgium. Recently, however, there seems to be a rising trend of shareholder activism in Europe. High-profile shareholder activism campaigns have been making headlines in the Belgian financial press too, targeting companies like Euronav, Solvay, Orange, Ontex, Telenet and Agfa Gevaert. This illustrates that the European trend may have spilled over to Belgium. In addition, there seems to be a global trend of “ESG activism”, where the tools of shareholder activism are used to pursue environmental, social and governance objectives. Such ESG activism can be pursued because the activist believes that it could contribute to long-term shareholder value, but it can also be pursued with a non-profit objective. An example of the latter is the “one share ESG activism” campaign against the Belgian company Solvay by the hedge fund Bluebell, which has urged Solvay to stop the discharge into the sea of waste from a soda ash production plant in Italy. Shareholder activism, and especially the recent trend of ESG activism, has not received much attention in Belgian legal scholarship, which this book on “shareholder activism in Belgium” aims to address. This chapter sets the scene for the rest of the book. I first define shareholder activism, discuss the various types of shareholder activism, and delineate shareholder activism from other types of activism (Part 2). Next, I describe the typical characteristics of hedge fund activism and compare it with other types of shareholder activism (Part 3). Part 4 then compares the different levels of shareholder activism across countries and investigates what could explain these differences. Finally, part 5 gives an overview of the economic evidence on the impact of shareholder activism on firm’s performance towards shareholders and other stakeholders. Part 6 concludes.
Source (book)
Shareholder activism in Belgium: boon or curse for sustainable value creation? / Van Hoe, A. [edit.]; Vos, T. [edit.]
Antwerpen : Intersentia , 2023
p. 1-47
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Publications with a UAntwerp address
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Creation 20.12.2023
Last edited 23.12.2023
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