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SEC’s Mary Jo White criticizes shareholder activism and Bill Ackman deal

Publisher: Fortune
Author: Stephen Gandel

Speaking at a conference in New Orleans, the SEC© chair warned that activist investors need to watch what they say.

The Securities and Exchange Commission hasn’t lost its patience with shareholder activism investors. But it is getting close. In a speech this week to a conference of lawyers and bankers on mergers and acquisition sponsored by Tulane University, SEC© Chair Mary Jo White, warned that hedge funds and others who push for new board members and other changes at companies need to watch what they say.“ It is not my intent to threaten the vibrancy of anyone’s practice,” White said, adding that she’s worked as a private sector lawyer, too. “But I do think it is time to step away from gamesmanship and inflammatory rhetoric that can harm companies and shareholders alike.” White specifically addressed hedge fund activist Bill Ackman, although not by name, and his ultimately failed co-bid with drug company Valeant to take over rival Allergan. It was the first time White had addressed the deal or ones like it.

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