Monday, February 19, 2007

A Good Word for Hedge Fund Activism

When hedge funds buy shares of a company and start agitating for changes in the way it is being managed, they may seem to be gunning for a quick killing at the expense of longer-term shareholders. But, in fact, the evidence shows that for the most part, buy-and-hold investors ought to cheer when hedge funds jump aggressively into a stock, according to a new study.
Titled “Hedge Fund Activism, Corporate Governance and Firm Performance,” it was written by Alon Brav, a finance professor at Duke; Wei Jiang, an associate professor of finance and economics at Columbia; Frank Partnoy, a law professor at the University of San Diego; and Randall S. Thomas, a professor of law and business at Vanderbilt. The study has been circulating in academic circles since the fall.
The authors examined nearly 900 instances from 2001 through 2005 of what they call hedge fund activism. The professors compiled their database in large part from the reports that hedge funds must file with the Securities and Exchange Commission whenever they acquire at least 5 percent of a company’s outstanding shares and intend to get involved in running the company.
Though the professors concede that they have no way to know whether their sample included every instance over this five-year period of hedge funds trying to change a company’s behavior, they write that they believe the sample “includes all the important events.” Included in the professors’ database are not only aggressively hostile actions like threats of lawsuits, proxy fights and takeovers, but also offers to help management enact policies intended to bolster the company’s stock price. Inherent in such cases, Professor Brav said, is an implied threat of hostile actions if management rebuffs those offers.
Go to Article from The New York Times »

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