A teaser for the conference on 9 June 2022
Shareholder activism used to be rare in Belgium. According to two studies, there were only 9 hedge fund activist engagements in Belgium between 2000 and 2010, and 7 between 2010 and 2018. This is much lower than the number of activist campaigns in the US, even in comparison to the total number of listed companies. However, shareholder activism is said to enter a “golden age” in Europe, with more corporations than ever at risk of activism. A second important trend is the rise of “ESG activism”, where the tools of shareholder activism are used to pursue “ESG” (environmental, social and governance) objectives. Such ESG activism can be pursued because the activist believes that it could contribute to long-term shareholder value, but also from a non-profit perspective. An example of the latter is the “one share ESG activism” campaign against Solvay by the hedge fund Bluebell, which has urged Solvay to stop the discharge into the sea of waste from a soda ash production plant in Italy.
Shareholder activism in Belgium, and especially the recent trend of ESG activism, has not received much attention in Belgian legal scholarship, however. To fill this gap, we (the Federation of Belgian Enterprises (FEB) and the Jean-Pierre Blumberg Chair at the University of Antwerp) have decided to organize a one-day conference on 9 June 2022 to explore the present and future of activism in Belgium.
Below, I give a small teaser of my introductory presentation.Continue reading “Shareholder activism in Belgium: boon or curse for sustainable value creation?”