SquareWell Tackles Activism With a TwistThe 2-year-old advisory firm brings a different approach to the advice it gives corporations, disgruntled institutional investors and activist hedge funds across Europe, Asia and Israel. 26 June 2020
Ronald Orol of The Deal spoke with both Louis Barbier and Ali Saribas of SquareWell to uncover its approach to supporting companies and investors. As highlighted in the article, SquareWell supports companies, disgruntled institutional investors and, sometimes, activist hedge funds on issues including ESG concerns, with a stronger focus on governance. Roughly 90% of its clients are companies, the vast majority of which are larger companies, including those on the FTSE 100 in the U.K. and CAC 40 in France.
“We help [companies] prioritize what kinds of ESG initiatives they should focus on to meet the expectations of their shareholder base and help them engage with investors in a more strategic way,” Louis Barbier said. Part of SquareWell’s offering can be considered akin to public relations strategy. “We review what should be the key message sent out to shareholders,” Barbier said.
In 2019, SquareWell worked on three of the 10 largest activist campaigns outside the U.S. by market capitalization that went to a shareholder vote. “Our clients have also been more traditional institutional investors who have gone against large European companies, because there was a governance issue they were concerned about,” Barbier said. “We won’t work on transactional situations, such as when activists seek to block a deal,” Barbier said. “We have to agree with the angle they are taking, and we need to know we can add value to the campaign, covering as many governance angles as possible.”
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