James Ashton: 'Absentee landlord' shareholders? No, we're all activists now
Outlook The attention that has been given to making sure shareholders are not the "absentee landlords" that Lord Myners grumbled about in the aftermath of the financial crisis should have made redundant the description of any investor as an activist. It clearly hasn't, as Carl Icahn's move on Apple proves.
Various stewardship codes are designed to underline the point that we're all activists now. Even the polite Norwegians are recruiting corporate governance experts to ensure their voices are heard around the boardroom table of companies in which their huge sovereign wealth fund has invested.
Sometimes there is no substitute for a little megaphone diplomacy, though. That's Mr Icahn's speciality, given the shake-ups he has sparked at the media giant Time Warner and internet stock Yahoo. It's probably the only way to go with Apple, whose sensational growth has given it a good excuse in the past to listen to investors but rarely act on what they are told.
Handing back cash is seen as a sign of weakness in the technology world. Apple's chief executive, Tim Cook, has already put in train one of the biggest share buybacks on Wall Street. Mr Icahn wants more, and says the iPod maker is undervalued. He may have a point, as its shares have tumbled 40 per cent since last September on fears that competitors are starting to make headway against it.
Perhaps Lord Myners, the former City minister who isn't averse to a bit of activism as chairman of the British arm of Cevian Capital, which has stakes in security firm G4S and wealth manager Old Mutual, should have taken a bite of Apple himself.
- 1 As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
- 2 The ten most unequal developed countries in the world
- 3 Saudi Arabia 'seeking to head United Nations Human Rights Council'
- 4 New Zealand 'the best country to work as a prostitute', says sex worker advocacy group
- 5 Irish people are travelling home from all over the world so they can vote to legalise gay marriage
JK Rowling horrified by Harry Potter actor Matthew Lewis's raunchy photoshoot
Saudi Arabia 'seeking to head United Nations Human Rights Council'
The ten most unequal developed countries in the world
The biggest ranch in America, larger than the whole of London, has gone on sale for $725m
Melissa McCarthy's brilliant response to one sexist question posed to her on the red carpet by a male reporter
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Labour leadership: Battle lines are drawn as members battle over party's ideology at first hustings of the contest
iJobs Money & Business
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...
£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...
£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...