Finschool By 5paisa

  • #
  • A
  • B
  • C
  • D
  • E
  • F
  • G
  • H
  • I
  • J
  • K
  • L
  • M
  • N
  • O
  • P
  • Q
  • R
  • S
  • T
  • U
  • V
  • W
  • X
  • Y
  • Z


Activist investor—a term that has gained prominence in the financial world over the past few decades. But what does it mean? This article will explore the concept of activist investors, their role in the market, and the impact they can have on companies.

What is an activist investor?

Activist investor: a phrase often conjures images of aggressive individuals shaking up boardrooms and challenging the status quo. And while that may not be entirely inaccurate, the role of an activist investor goes beyond mere disruption. At its core, an activist investor is an individual or group that purchases a significant stake in a company’s shares with the intention of influencing its strategic decisions and ultimately unlocking shareholder value. By leveraging their ownership position, activist investors seek to bring about changes that will improve the company’s performance and increase its stock price.

Understanding Activist Investors

To truly comprehend the motivations and strategies of activist investors, it is essential to understand the different types they can take. Let’s explore the various categories of activist investors:

Types of Activist Investors

  1. Individual Activist Investors

Individual activist investors are independent stakeholders who use their resources to challenge and engage with companies. These individuals often possess extensive experience and a deep understanding of their target industries. Their activism can take various forms, including public campaigns, proxy battles, or litigation.

Advantages of Individual Activist Investors

  • Individual activist investors bring a unique set of advantages to the table. Their in-depth industry knowledge and practical approach enable them to spot operational inefficiencies and strategic errors that conventional investors might need to know about. Furthermore, individual activists are often perceived as long-term stakeholders with a genuine interest in the company’s success, fostering trust among other shareholders.

Disadvantages of Individual Activist Investors

  • Despite their potential benefits, individual activist investors face certain limitations. Limited financial resources compared to institutional players can restrict the scope of their actions. Additionally, their personal biases and subjective views may influence decision-making, potentially leading to conflicts of interest or misaligned objectives.
  1. Private Equity Firms

These firms are investment companies that pool capital from various sources to acquire substantial business ownership stakes. When investing in underperforming or undervalued companies, these firms often adopt an activist approach. They actively participate in their portfolio companies’ management and strategic direction, aiming to generate significant returns for their investors.

Advantages of Private Equity Firms

  • Private equity firms bring substantial financial resources and expertise, allowing them to implement transformative changes at a company. Their access to capital and network of industry professionals can help struggling businesses turn their fortunes around. Moreover, the long-term orientation of private equity investors aligns with their commitment to maximizing shareholder value.

Disadvantages of Private Equity Firms

  • Despite their potential benefits, private equity firms have drawbacks. The aggressive nature of their investment strategies can sometimes result in layoffs or cost-cutting measures that adversely affect employees and communities. Additionally, the short-term profit focus of certain private equity players may hinder long-term sustainable growth.
  1. Hedge Funds

Hedge funds, often associated with high-risk investment strategies, also participate in activist investing. These investment vehicles pool capital from multiple investors to pursue strategies that aim to generate substantial returns. In the context of activism, hedge funds take significant positions in companies and use their influence to effect change.

Advantages of Hedge Funds

  • Hedge funds bring a nimble and opportunistic approach to activist investing. Their ability to quickly identify undervalued or mismanaged companies allows them to capitalize on market inefficiencies. Moreover, the experience and expertise of hedge fund managers can bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to the companies they target.

Disadvantages of Hedge Funds

  • Hedge funds, like any investment vehicle, have their disadvantages. Some hedge funds’ short-term orientation and profit-driven nature can result in strategies prioritizing quick gains over sustainable long-term growth. Furthermore, their speculative behavior and aggressive tactics can create market volatility and uncertainty.

Do Activist Investors Ever Settle with Companies?

It’s not always a tale of conflict and confrontation. While activist investors are often associated with high-profile battles and public disputes, settlement is often an expected outcome. Activist investors are rational actors driven by a desire to maximize their returns. If they can achieve their objectives through negotiation and compromise, settling with the company can be a mutually beneficial resolution.

Who Are the Biggest Activist Investors?


Managed AUM (USD)

The Children’s Investment Fund Management (TCI)

10.6 billion

ValueAct Capital

9.7 billion

Third Point

8.5 billion

Tiger Global Management

7.8 billion

Paulson & Co.

7.1 billion

Maverick Capital

6.4 billion

Coatue Management

5.7 billion

Baupost Group

5.0 billion

Akre Capital Management

4.3 billion


These investors are known for their aggressive approach to investing, which often involves taking large stakes in companies and pushing for changes in management or strategy. They have successfully generated solid returns for their investors, but their tactics have also been criticized for being disruptive and harmful to companies.

Here are some of the most notable activist campaigns in India in recent years:

  • In 2017, TCI took a significant stake in Tata Steel and pushed for the company to sell its UK assets. Tata Steel eventually agreed to sell the assets, which resulted in a significant gain for TCI’s investors.
  • In 2018, ValueAct Capital took a significant stake in Yes Bank and pushed for the company to improve its governance and financial performance. Yes, Bank eventually agreed to several changes, including appointing a new CEO and strengthening its board of directors.
  • In 2019, Third Point took a significant stake in Reliance Industries and pushed for the company to spin off its retail business. Reliance Industries eventually agreed to spin off the retail business, which resulted in a significant gain for Third Point’s investors.

Activist investors have played an increasingly important role in the Indian market recently. Their aggressive approach to investing has led to significant changes at some of India’s largest companies, and their success has attracted more investors to the activist space. However, their tactics have also been criticized for being disruptive and harmful to companies. It remains to be seen how activist investors will continue to shape the Indian market.

How Activist Investors Make Their Case

Activist investors employ various strategies to make their case and effect change within companies. These strategies can include:

  • Public Campaigns: Activists utilize public platforms such as media outlets and social media to raise awareness about their concerns and rally support from other shareholders and stakeholders.
  • Proxy Battles: Activists may contest board elections or propose shareholder resolutions to secure seats or influence decision-making.
  • Engaging with Management: Activists often engage directly with the management and board of the company to articulate their concerns and propose alternative strategies.
  • Litigation: In extreme cases, activists may resort to legal action to protect their rights and enforce change.


Activist investors play a vital role in the modern financial landscape. Their interventions can lead to improved corporate governance, increased accountability, and enhanced shareholder value. However, it is essential to strike a balance between activism and the long-term health of companies. By understanding activist investors’ motivations, strategies, and potential impact, stakeholders can navigate this dynamic landscape more effectively.

View All