Working paper by Lars Nordén and Therese Strand
This paper investigates shareholder activism by observing Swedish portfolio managers' behavior at firms' annual general meetings. Institutional shareholders' voting behavior and tendencies for raising opinions at the general meetings are related to firm characteristics, suggested by both agency theory and institutional perspectives. The results show that institutional shareholders are more likely to be active in large firms, which appear a lot in media, and have a large proportion of institutional ownership. Portfolio managers appear not to consider bad firm performance as a reason for targeting firms. Instead, managers' behavior is consistent with the institutional notion that they benefit from the activism themselves, without trying to improve target firms' performance. In view of this notion, it is rational for managers to be active in large firms, with large media coverage, achieving their 15 minutes of fame at the general meetings.
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