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White: When Activist Shareholders Strike, SEC Will Scrutinize Disclosures

Joe Mont | March 19, 2015

The message from Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Jo White to activist investors and the companies they seek to influence: play nice. “It is time to step away from gamesmanship and inflammatory rhetoric that can harm companies and shareholders alike,” she said during a speech Tuesday at Tulane University.

White addressed the role the SEC has amid those often caustic debates and the disclosure requirements that relate to those fights. She also shared her views on the role the SEC may play when bylaws and charter provisions shift the company’s costs in shareholder litigation to the plaintiff if they lose or are not entirely successful.

“Increasingly, companies are talking to their shareholders, including so-called activist ones,” White said. “That, in my view, is generally a very good thing. Increased engagement is important and a growing necessity for many companies...

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