Activists Are Cage-Fighting Over More Targets, Lazard Banker Says

(Bloomberg) -- A surge in activism is distracting corporate managers as more investors take issue with company strategies, said Jim Rossman, the head of shareholder advisory at Lazard Ltd.

As shareholders become more vocal, “there are more players all identifying the same vulnerabilities, but different ways to solve it,” Rossman said Tuesday in a Bloomberg Television interview.

Carl Icahn said on Monday that he’s backing off from efforts to block Cigna Corp.’s planned $54 billion acquisition of Express Scripts Holding Co., ending a clash with Larry Robbins’s Glenview Capital Management LLC, which supported the deal. Dissenting views between Icahn and Starboard Value earlier in the year over investments in Newell Brands Inc. became a months-long “cage fight,” Rossman said.

Rossman said that more long-term shareholders are willing to support campaigns, in what he called “the new vocalism.”

“I’m talking about Wellington, T. Rowe Price, Neuberger Berman, ClearBridge, Janus Henderson, Standard Life, who are willing, much earlier, to take sides,” he said. “They want the alpha too, and they’re frustrated.”

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