Wielding clout to get their way

US public pension funds are behaving like activist investors to make companies comply with their wishes as major shareholders

ACTIVIST investors like Carl C Icahn, Daniel S Loeb and William A Ackman are getting deep-pocketed imitators.

Some of the biggest public pension funds, which have sought to influence companies for years, are now starting to emulate these investors by engaging with, and sometimes seeking to oust, directors of companies whose stock they own.

Anne Simpson, director of corporate governance at the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), the largest US pension plan with US$279 billion in assets, says "board coups" this year that led to the departure of directors at Hewlett-Packard, JPMorgan Chase and Occidental Petroleum show "how shareholder activism is evolving from barbarians at...

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