A Synopsis of the Silicon Valley Directors’ Exchange Panel Discussion
2014 was the high water mark to date for investor activism in the US, with activists targeting public companies regardless of size, performance or relative success. As a result, boards increasingly want to know what to expect in 2015 and how to engage most effectively with their shareholders.
To get timely answers to these questions and more, Kaye Scholer Corporate Partner Diane Holt Frankle recently moderated “Living with the Activists” for the Silicon Valley Directors’ Exchange at Stanford Law School’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance. The January 15, 2015 panel featured MacKenzie Partners CEO and co-founder Daniel H. Burch; CamberView Partners founder and managing partner Abe M. Friedman; eBay’s senior vice president, legal affairs, general counsel and secretary Michael Jacobson; Goldman Sachs managing director Muir Paterson; and Sard Verbinnen & Co chairman and CEO George Sard.
Diane recaps the highlights of the two-hour panel discussion in a five-minute video interview with panelist George Sard.
A key takeaway is that boards need to look at their company the way an activist would and not be surprised by potential shareholder criticism. As George notes, when it comes to understanding activism and its effect on board strategy, leadership and culture, “You want to make sure that your top shareholders know you well, that you understand what they’re thinking. . . . [I]t’s not something that can be delegated to the IR person. You need to have your CEO and your CFO be in close touch with the major institutions, and you also need to think about using board members strategically in certain circumstances.”
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