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United States : Activist investors now targeting both large and mid caps as 2015 set to become record year for shareholder activism activity.

An increasing number of publicly active activists with ever-deeper pockets, combined with attractively priced corporates sitting on large cash piles, is leading to a perfect storm of shareholder activism activity in Europe, according to new research by Linklaters, the international law firm.

Over the past five years, the number of publicly active activists has grown by 163% from 119 in 2010 to 314 in Q3 2015. Similarly, the funds available to activist investors have grown 153% over the same period to $120bn worth of assets under management.

This is leading to increased activist activity. Globally, activist shareholders have already launched 860 actions in the first nine months to the end of September, putting 2015 on track for a record year. This compares with a total of 907 in the whole of 2014 and 795 in 2013.

The focus of activist activity continues to be in the US, with a 289% increase in activist actions in 2015 compared with 2010. However, with European companies sitting on 2.1tn in cash and attractively priced compared with companies in the US, they are also being increasingly targeted, and the region has seen a 126% increase in activity over the same period.

Activists in Europe are also targeting ever larger companies. Across Europe, the share of actions targeting European companies with a market cap of more than $1bn has risen from 15% in 2010 to 50% in Q3 2015.

Most activity in Europe has been centred on companies in the UK, which has so far seen 32 actions in 2015. However, companies in France, Austria, Switzerland and Ireland all have seen an increasing number of activist actions this year.

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Publication:Mena Report
Date:Nov 5, 2015
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