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Extreme Value Hedging: How Activist Hedge Fund Managers Are Taking on the World by Ronald D. Orol

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Chapter 16

Technology, Communications, and Activists

Gary Lutin, Eric Jackson, and Anne Faulk

Corporations first began holding annual general meetings, in part, because physically getting together was the only way investors, the company's owners, could learn about the financial health of the business, elect directors, communicate with executives and make thoughtful investment decisions.

Today, annual meetings are no longer places where executives meet with investors to spontaneously exchange views and subsequently make voting decisions. Instead, these meetings are mere formalities where previously decided votes are tallied up for prenegotiated resolutions. Executives make short prepared remarks decided well in advance. “Nobody's going to the annual meeting to decide how they are going to vote,” says Lutin & Company's Gary Lutin. “All the communications take place in ongoing dialogue with companies such as in quarterly conference calls.”

Unleashing their aggravation about the current state of affairs for annual meetings, investors are turning to new technologies that allow them to come together in ways that were previously impossible. The arrival of the Internet has allowed investors to communicate more quickly and with greater frequency.

Embracing this technology and responding to investor frustrations, Lutin organizes meeting places for investors, online or in a physical location, which exist outside of the company's annual shareholder meeting. The objective is to provide a place ...

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