Rivel Research Group Announces Findings of 2018 Shareholder Activism Study

Although 64% of Companies Expect Shareholder Activism to Increase
and 56% Have Been Contacted by an Activist,
Most Management Teams are Not Concerned about Activism
and Many Have Done Little or Nothing to Prepare

WESTPORT, Conn.--()--Rivel Research Group, a marketing research firm devoted to gathering, analyzing and interpreting investment community feedback, today released the findings of a new poll of global Investor Relations Officers (“IROs”) regarding shareholder activism. The study confirmed activism is a rising force that is expected to increase in the years ahead, but also found that most companies are unconcerned, have not hired advisors and do not have a plan in place to respond to shareholder activism.

“not very concerned about being targeted by activists.”

Key findings include:

  • IROs believe that shareholder activism is here to stay.
    • 64 percent believe activism will increase over the next couple of years, and 30 percent expect activism to remain constant.
  • Most companies have engaged with one or more activists.
    • 56 percent of the IROs surveyed have had direct experience with activism, a significant increase from 2014 when 45 percent of IROs reported having engaged with an activist.
  • Despite the prevalence of activism and expectations that it will continue to be a major force, most management teams are not particularly concerned.
    • 54 percent of the survey participants expressed that their senior management team is “not very concerned about being targeted by activists.”
  • Many companies have done little or nothing to prepare for shareholder activism.
    • Only 31 percent of companies have gathered structured feedback from their shareholders with a survey.
    • Only 27 percent have a communications plan in place to respond to activism.
    • Only 17 percent have preemptively engaged an investment bank for activism defense services.
    • Only 17 percent have preemptively engaged a communications consultant.

The poll also found sharply divided sentiments regarding the impact of shareholder activism. 30 percent of IROs view activism as a “negative force in the equity markets”, while 23 percent consider it a positive force. Global buy-side investors have a more definitive view: nearly seven-in-ten (69 percent) global buy-side investors view activism as a positive force in the equity markets.

“Following the recent proliferation of shareholder activism, many management teams and investor relations officers have experience dealing with activist investors and some are now taking proactive steps to prepare for a potential attack,” said Brian Rivel, President of Rivel Research Group. “Interestingly, however, most companies still have not taken steps broadly considered to be best practices to deter or defend against shareholder activism. Further, increased familiarity with and preparedness for activism may be having unintended consequences on management teams; most companies are not concerned about the threat of activism despite widespread expectations that shareholder activism will continue at current levels or increase.”

Research Methodology

Rivel conducted the poll of Investor Relations Officers from approximately 630 companies in North America and Europe. The survey included quantitative and qualitative polling to reveal the motivations behind attitudes expressed as well as statistically relevant data (large and representative respondent pools) which can be called on to support high-level strategic decisions. The poll was conducted March 1- 27, 2018.


Founded in 1991, Rivel Research Group is the only firm that specializes in delivering actionable insight based on in-depth measurements of the investment community. Rivel’s highly experienced staff provides the well-informed, unbiased and strategically relevant intelligence companies need to effectively communicate with such important constituencies as sell-side analysts, buy-side analysts, portfolio managers, the financial media and other influential audiences. The comprehensive information that Rivel supplies enables companies to evaluate performance, formulate strategy and identify opportunities to achieve corporate objectives directed toward these groups. For more information, visit www.rivel.com.


Rivel Research Group
Sean McCurdy, 203-493-2333
Managing Director, Intelligence Council

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