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.