The activists are taking on Washington.
Billionaire investors Paul Singer, Carl Icahn, Barry Rosenstein, William Ackman andDaniel Loeb are setting aside their political differences to launch a Washington-based lobbying group to fight mounting attacks on shareholder activism.
Dubbed the Council for Investor Rights and Corporate Accountability, or Circa, it is the first coordinated effort by activists to make their case to lawmakers and the American public that their investment strategy helps, rather than harms, companies and the U.S. economy.
The lobbying push comes as debate over the merits of activist investing spills over into the presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton last year proposed changing the tax code to crack down on “hit and run” activists. In March, Bernie Sanders, Mrs. Clinton’s rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, co-signed legislation aimed at their ability to buy stakes and influence companies.
Activist investors have targeted some of the biggest companies in the U.S., from Apple Inc. to Procter & Gamble Co. to Dow Chemical Co., agitating for an array of changes designed to boost shareholder value.
Circa’s five backers together manage about $90 billion. The group’s message to lawmakers: Activist investors, as owners of the companies they target, are spurring a debate about corporate decision making that has the potential to benefit all shareholders and, by extension, the broader economy.
“We’re telling a story about an ecosystem and how they help America and make it a competitive system,”
said Rob Collins, a political strategist who is advising Circa.