SEC Chair White Criticizes “Gamesmanship” by Activists and Companies

March 27, 2015

In a speech at Tulane’s Corporate Law Institute, SEC Chair Mary Jo White weighed in on the debate over shareholder activism. In particular, she criticized “gamesmanship” — by activists and companies alike. Views are mixed on whether activist hedge funds create shareholder value or are merely disruptive, and the SEC declined to take sides. However, Chair White focused on some controversial activist tactics, such as those of William Ackman last year in his bid for Allergan. According to Chair White, “it is time to step away from gamesmanship and inflammatory rhetoric that can harm companies and shareholders alike.” On the flip side, however, Chair White also raised concerns about companies that exclude shareholder access proposals on the grounds that a management proposal “directly conflicts,” particularly if management’s proposal sets access requirements that realistically cannot be met. In White’s words, “Gamesmanship has no place in the process.” Read Chair White’s speech and coverage in Fortune.

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