CFA Institute 10 February 2022
The Pandemic's Impact on Shareholder Activism
CFA Institute Alpha Summit APAC
Virtual Session: Video On Demand
CFA Institute Alpha Summit APAC, a two-day virtual conference focusing on the investment industry’s biggest challenges and most compelling trends across Asia Pacific, was held on 10-11 February 2022. From shareholder activism and advances in fintech to sustainable investment strategy and capital allocation, the nine thematic sessions of the conference aimed to give the audience the tools and guidance on best practices that financial professionals need to succeed.
Over the past decade, shareholder activists and — more recently — ESG activists have made significant progress in the Asia-Pacific region. Their efforts put errant managements on notice, led to regulatory reforms, enhanced shareholder influence, improved governance and set encouraging examples for others to follow. What are the key lessons to learn from recent cases of successful shareholder activism in Japan, Australia, and other markets in the region, and are there limits to activism? How should various investors engage with companies to drive positive changes in corporate governance as they emerge from the pandemic?
The panel discussion “The Pandemic’s Impact on Shareholder Activism” explored ways in which investors engage with companies, whether as activist investors, aiming for short-term gains, or active shareholders, who want to create long-term value. Investor activism is not common in Asia Pacific, where such adversarial practices struggle against the power of controlling shareholders. There is room, however, for engagement with active investors, who can provide valuable insight and a sounding board for new strategic ideas. The Covid-19 pandemic has made companies more open to such engagement and the interactions have become more meaningful.
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Amar joined BlackRock in 2018 after 22 years with CLSA, a regional industry leader for independent equities research, where he rose to become Head of Asia Research. Amar is a pioneer in regional corporate governance research, writing nine reports for CLSA between 2001 and 2014 in collaboration with the Asian Corporate Governance Association (ACGA). He graduated with first class honours in philosophy, politics and economics, and did a master’s in philosophy majoring in ethics at Oxford University. He is presently on the Asia advisory group of Climate Action 100+, as well as the Young Investors Society.
David leads abrdn’s ESG research and integration activity in Asia and oversees the day-to-day running of the Asian Sustainable Development Equity Fund. He is also responsible for engaging with the board members and management teams of abrdn’s investee companies across the region. Before joining abrdn in 2011, he worked for ISS, where he headed up the Asia (ex-Japan) research team. David has a PhD in corporate governance and a master’s degree in corporate strategy and governance from the University of Nottingham. He also has a bachelor’s degree in business economics from the University of Wales.
Along with his duties at Link Asset Management, Nicholas is an independent non-executive director at CLP Holdings, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, and Mordril Properties. Following his retirement as a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2007, Nicholas served as an independent non-executive director at Hysan Development Company, Lenovo Group, and VinaLand. Nicholas holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and social studies from the University of Manchester. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and a member of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
YK Park oversees the implementation of responsible investment policies for APG Asset Management’s client base. Her geographic coverage encompasses the entire Asia-Pacific region, including Japan and Australia. YK actively engages with portfolio companies, market regulators, exchanges, and institutional investors on corporate governance, the environment, social policy, and corruption. Before joining APG, YK spent more than ten years as a securities analyst in the investment banking sector, where she focused on a range of industry sectors, such as utilities, transportation, steel, chemicals, and refining.
Sivananth Ramachandran (Siva) is the Director of Capital Markets Policy, India at the CFA Institute. In his role, he is responsible for advocating policy positions on issues that impact Indian capital markets, including corporate governance, ESG, and financial reporting, to name a few. Siva recently contributed as part of a SEBI working group that reviewed the related party transaction regulations. He is frequently quoted in media. Siva has nearly thirteen years of experience in financial services. Prior to joining the CFA Institute, Siva spent five years at Morningstar, and led their global index product development team. He also served as a spokesperson for sustainability at Morningstar India. Prior to his time at Morningstar, Siva spent nearly five years at MSCI where he co-authored research papers on small cap investing, portfolio construction, and economic exposure. Siva has an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow. He also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Professional Risk Management (PRM) designations, and the Fundamentals of Sustainability Accounting (FSA) credential provided by Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB).