Shareholder Activism: Why Should Investors Care?


Institutional investors have large and diversified portfolios with substantial company ownership and strong incentives to monitor and influence the firm’s business. Active ownership is becoming a key component of their investment process. We describe the various channels though which shareholders can challenge corporate decision making, including the ones most favored by institutional investors: voting at general meetings and behind the scene engagement, and we survey evidence on their effectiveness. Overall, empirical findings in the literature are consistent with the view that active ownership is profitable to active owners and beneficial. Both financial and ESG performance of targeted firms tends to improve following successful engagement. Active ownership, even if leading to substantial costs in some cases, can be profitable to active owners.

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