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Barbarians in the Boardroom by Owen Walker

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Part 1

Introduction

1

Who are activist investors?

Activist investors are great dividers of opinion. For some, they are the ultimate heroes of capitalism – disciples of Adam Smith who keep companies and their boards in check by making examples of the worst performers and ensuring the businesses are run in the best interests of their owners. For others, they are the very embodiment of our short-termist, greed-driven society; they stop at nothing to strip well-functioning companies of their prized assets – cutting jobs and research budgets as they go – in order to make a quick buck, before moving on to their next target.

They have attracted praise and criticism in equal measure. Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has welcomed the inroads activists ...

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