June 23, 2022 | Editor: Martin Wennerström
Zendesk in talks to settle with activist investor
Zendesk has reportedly engaged in settlement talks with activist investor Jana Partners LLC, days after the customer support services provider announced that it had been unsuccessful in its efforts to find a suitable acquirer for its business. The truce may involve the resignation of Zendesk CEO Mikkel Svane as well as certain board changes such as the removal of the lead independent director. In February, Jana Partners, holder of a 2.5% stake in Zendesk, launched a proxy fight at the company, nominating four directors to the board. The move was prompted by Zendesk’s planned USD 4.1 billion acquisition of SurveyMonkey parent, Momentive Global, a deal which some shareholders, including Jana, criticized over its strategic and financial rationale. The transaction was ultimately voted down by shareholders. The conflict between Jana and Zendesk escalated in June when the activist investor announced plans to sue Zendesk for failing to set a date for its 2022 AGM. In February, Zendesk had turned down a USD 16 billion acquisition offer from a consortium of private equity firms.
Atos CEO resigns amid restructuring plans
The CEO of Atos has resigned after apparent disagreements with the board over the company’s restructuring plans. Rodolphe Belmer, who has been at Atos’ helm since January, will step down as of September 22. CFO Stéphane Lhopiteau will also leave the group this year. Atos is considering a possible separation into two publicly listed entities, with Atos continuing to operate its legacy IT services unit and a new company to be named “Evidian” listing in H2 2023 and housing Atos’ former data and cybersecurity business.
Softbank to list part of its Arm stake on LSE
SoftBank Group is reportedly considering listing some of its stake in its UK-based Arm Ltd. on the London Stock Exchange. However, the Japanese company will likely still conduct the IPO in the U.S. While the size and timing of the share sale has not been decided, SoftBank's founder, Masayoshi Son, plans to sell a portion of the company within the fiscal year ending March 2023. Softbank has been exploring options for Ant’s IPO since its plan to sell the company to U.S. peer Nvidia for USD 40 billion collapsed earlier this year due to regulatory concerns.
Founder floats take-private offer for Continental Resources
Continental Resources has received a take-private proposal from founder and Chairman Harold Hamm and his family trust, which collectively own 83% of the company’s capital. The USD 70 per share all-cash buyout offer represents an approximate 9% premium over Continental's June 13 closing price. However, Smead Capital Management, which with an equity stake of around 2% is the largest shareholder after the Hamm family, believes that the offer "undervalues" the shale producer. In response, the board will bring in third-party expertise to evaluate the fairness of the deal.
Governance in Brief – June 8, 2023
European Parliament approves CSDDD The European Parliament has approved the “Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive.” Under the new rules, companies will be required to identify and address the negative impact of their activities and value chains on human rights and the environment. Additionally, companies will need to implement climate transition plans, and, in the case of companies with more than 1,000 employees, tie directors' variable compensation to target achievement.
Governance in Brief – June 1, 2023
Citigroup to IPO Banamex after Mexican gov’t interventions hamper sales deal Citigroup has announced a plan to spin off its Mexican business, Banamex, after a failure to sell the unit to conglomerate Grupo Mexico. Citigroup had been in talks with German Larrea, CEO and Chairman of Grupo Mexico, for over a year in an attempt to orchestrate the sale of the bank, which was first announced at the start of 2022.
Governance in Brief – May 25, 2023
Activist investor pushes for leadership and strategy changes at NRG Energy Activist investor Elliott Investment Management has disclosed a 13% stake in the US-based NRG Energy and called for leadership and operational changes at the company to remedy its “meaningful underperformance.” The investor urged NRG to add independent directors with experience in the power and energy sector to its board, noting that it has already identified five executives to guide the operational and strategic changes.