The Rise of Anti-Activist Poison Pills
Series number :
- poison pills •
- Activism •
- Hedge Funds •
- Market for Corporate Control •
We provide the first systematic evidence of contractual innovation in the terms of poison pill plans. In response to the increase in hedge fund activism, pills have changed to include anti-activist provisions, such as low trigger thresholds and acting-in-concert provisions.
Using unique data on hedge fund views of SEC filings as a proxy for the threat of activists' interventions, we show that hedge fund interest predicts pill adoptions. Moreover, the likelihood of a 13D filing declines after firms adopt "anti-activist" pills, suggesting that pills are effective in deterring activists. The results are particularly strong for "NOL" pills that, due to tax laws, have a five percent trigger. Our analysis has implications for understanding the modern dynamics of market discipline of managers in public corporations and evaluating policies that regulate defensive tactics.