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An Activist Investment in Whole Foods Exposes Shifting Power on Wall St. - The New York Times
APRIL 25, 2017 | NYT | By ALEXANDRA STEVENSON.

Neuberger Berman has eschewed its nearly 80-year-old tactic of playing nice (i.e. buy and hold stocks, sit back, and hope for the best), turning to the bare-knuckled world of activist investors made famous by the likes of Carl C. Icahn and William A. Ackman. Last year, as Neuberger Berman’s roughly $200 million investment in Whole Foods Market languished, the firm quietly approached some hedge funds and urged them to agitate for change at the high-end grocer. Two weeks ago, Jana Partners took up the fight......Neuberger Berman’s behind-the-scenes campaign to shake up Whole Foods is the latest example of a dynamic that is upending relations between public companies and the big investors that own their stock.....a reflection of the shifting balance of power on Wall Street....Traditional money managers in search of market-beating returns are demanding a seat at the table, turning to activists for help and even employing some hedge fund tricks of their own. And activists, once the black sheep of the investment world, are now accepted as regular, if meddlesome, investors. ....[Activist investors], she added, “[are an] important ‘check and balance’ on management that has lost its way.”....Neuberger Berman executives prepared an inch-thick presentation--a thorough critique--the kind of document usually produced by activists.....failures in how Whole Foods handled its brand development, and to what it said were customer service deficiencies and a poor strategy for distribution......Relations between institutional investors and activists have evolved in recent years, and it is not unheard-of for big investors to support activists who have set their sights on a high-profile company. ..... be careful of what you wish for, Neuberger Berman discovered that utilizing board seats on an underperforming portfolio company can be "expensive and time-consuming.”.....it is less common for an institutional investor to share its work on a specific target with activists in the way Neuberger Berman did with Whole Foods....There is even a term for the interplay: “R.F.A.s” or “requests for activism.”....Institutional investors do not make investments predicated on an activist showing up.
Wall_Street  money_management  shareholder_activism  beat_the_market  hedge_funds  Whole_Foods  Jana_Partners  Neuberger_Berman  institutional_investors  checks_and_balances  Carl_Icahn  William_Ackman  boards_&_directors_&_governance 
april 2017 by jerryking
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