Tuesday, August 25, 2009

NIRI Southwest Conference Case Study on Shareholder Activism Proves Successful

The NIRI Southwest conference in San Antonio recently hosted a unique learning experience for its attendees. Over 100 participants intensively played out a case study that profiled an activist investor pressuring a trouble company for strategy change and board representation.

The objective of the case study was to provide corporate Investor Relations officers with an action learning experience that simulated an increasing common dilemma facing many boards of directors and executives at publicly traded companies today. By the end of the case study participants gained a greater understanding of the issues and complexities of shareholder activism – it’s causes and effects - and wrestled with key fiduciary issues as if they were a Director of a public firm.

The case study was very well received by participants - particularly the value of the learning experience. One participant commented:

“The exercise was extremely interactive, engaging and entertaining. What was significant was how tactically the role playing hammered home what the board actually has to deal with – and the hoops the IR has to jump through when an activist letter arrives. It really emphasized IR’s need to a) be on the lookout for activists, b) alert the board and senior management regarding an activist position in your company and c) try to be as proactive and educational towards the board regarding an activist. When a board is accused of being asleep at the wheel, it’s a serious black mark for the directors. It can irrevocably taint them for future appointments."

Damien Park, Managing Partner of Hedge Fund Solutions helped author the case study with Lee M. Ahlstrom, VP Investor Relations and Planning, Noble Drilling Services, who was also the conference chair. The case study forms part of a platform of educational programs and advisory services offered by Hedge Fund Solutions that address board, company management and investor relations knowledge, skill and strategy development in matters relating to activism and value investing.

For additional information about this case study contact Edward Ferris at eferris@hedgerelations.com.

You can read more about the activist case study implemented at the NIRI Southwest Conference on John Palizza's blog Investor Relations Musings