Supervisory Board Chairs: How Paul Singer Gains the Sovereignty of Interpretation

Paul Singer

In its new issue, Manager Magazin examines the business practices of the hedge fund Elliott by Paul Singer, who among other things is targeting ThyssenKrupp – and raises important questions that also bother us (“Will aggressive shareholder cliques rule the country in the future?”). The authors combine their critical and well-researched “Inside Report” with a side blow against ThyssenKrupp’s ex-Supervisory Board Chairman Ulrich Lehner: He had allowed himself to be “lulled in” by the board members and belonged to “the kind of presidential veterans who see their mandates as a lap of honour for a top manager’s career”.

Aggressive shareholders, high-calibre PR

Certainly, these species are still represented on the supervisory boards despite professionalization. But anyone who knows Lehner knows that he is not one of them, but a member of the supervisory board out of conviction – even if he likes to spend time “at skateboards”, as Manager Magazin spitz notes. The criticism of him should make all supervisory boards think, because it shows: Aggressive shareholders like Singer not only have top stock corporation lawyers at their side, but also high-calibre PR strategists who transform supposed weaknesses into catchy messages (which also catch on to critical media). This carries the danger that activist investors will gain sovereignty over central issues – one more reason why all capital market-oriented supervisory boards will join an active professional association such as VARD and make their voice heard.