ESG activism increases by 20% at start of 2022

A report by Alvarez & Marsal says that ESG related shareholder activism in Europe saw a 20% increase in January and February compared to the same period in 2021.

The report predicts that 155 companies will be at risk of activist attacks in the next 18 months, an increase of seven compared to A&M’s last update in November 2021. The UK remains the most attractive market for activists in Europe with 59 UK corporates predicted to face a public campaign by an activist investor in the next six to 18 months, an increase of four compared to November 2021.

Activism driven by ESG concerns increased 20% in the first two months of the year, compared to 2021. This is expected to continue, particularly in the energy sector, where predicted targets have increased 60% since the last update.

Malcolm McKenzie, Managing Director and Head of European Corporate Transformation Services, said: “ESG continues to be a key driver of activism in Europe. The energy sector is coming under mounting pressure to cut back on carbon-intensive activities and seek renewable alternatives, with an increasing number of activists looking to make their voices heard. The war in Ukraine has also exposed Europe’s over-reliance on Russia for its gas supply, giving activists further impetus to push for more local fossil fuel production to achieve energy security. Boards of energy majors could therefore be faced with a Gordian knot of competing and contradictory activist demands.