Saturday, March 26, 2016

"Dear Chairman"

The subtitle of this recently published book is "Boardroom Battles and the Rise of Shareholder Activism".  The author is Jeff Gramm, not previously known here, and his book cover bio states that he manages a hedge fund and is an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School.

The book is written in a clear and informative style, and not in a patronizing or pedantic style as some investment books seem to be.  In fact, it is not an advice book at all.  It is a linear history of a series of events in which dissident shareholders of companies seek to influence or change management of companies for various reasons.  They do so with different motivations.  Many like Carl Icahn seek influence solely for a relatively short term profit, no matter what they profess.  A few like Warren Buffett do so because they believe that a company has significant long term value but needs a nudge at a present time.  There are some who take action both because they want a profit soon but also because they are incensed or offended by the self serving or stupid actions of a management team. There are many examples touched on in the book, but eight of these events are highlighted in detail.

Much of what is in this book can be familiar territory, but even so it is interesting, maybe even enhanced if one has prior knowledge.  There are lessons learned here that a reasonably experienced investor might already know.  Still the stellar writing and easy storytelling make this a worthy read for those with an interest in this.  If some millennials known here had an interest in this field at any meaningful way, Amazon would be delivering the book to them on Monday.  That could change.

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