4 days ago
No more quiet chats? Australia becomes new frontier for shareholder disruption
SYDNEY/LONDON (Reuters) - As BHP Billiton (BHP.AX) fends off the attention of Elliott Management, activist funds are targeting other Australian firms, shaking up a corporate culture that has long favored quiet chats over splashy headlines. Seeking new, less crowded markets, activist investors are using Australia's shareholder-friendly laws to pressure corporate boards criticized as clubby and conservative in an effort to improve returns. "Whereas before it was quite normal for companies to address any potential shareholder activism in Australia behind closed doors, only now is there a real appetite to go public and to take the message direct to shareholders," said Michael Chandler, governance director at shareholder engagement firm Global Proxy Solicitation.