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Analysis-Elliott, Ancora lead hedge funds in pushing for more women on boards -Breaking


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: A group of workers is seen inside an office tower at Canary Wharf, London, UK, on November 17, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Svea Fall-Bayliss and Jessica DiNapoli

(Reuters) – Ancora Advisors LLC and Elliott Management Corp led activists hedge funds that pushed for women to be on corporate boards. This was as a Wall Street network of old-boys makes progress towards diversity.

Investor activists who demand changes in companies’ boards put forward slates of nominees for shareholder votes or negotiate directly to remove or add directors.

Hedge funds are still behind corporate America when it comes to diversity in corporate boards. However, they have been able to significantly outperform their peers in nominating and adding women directors according an Insightia analysis for Reuters.

Elliott was founded in 2000 by Paul Singer. Eight women were publicly appointed to Elliott’s boards of directors last year according to Insightia data. According to Insightia data, this hedge fund was last year the only to add more women to its boards.

Elliott was able to install eight men onto its boards for 2019, while it had nominated women at Hyundai Motor Co. In the past, Elliott has helped women get elected.

Fred DiSanto ran Ancora and nominated nine female directors to its boards last year. This was within striking distance of the thirteen men who were put forward. Insightia says that of the eight directors it installed on board, three were women.

This figure is higher than the industry average. Insightia reviewed the record of 12 activist funds, with assets greater than $500million that were publicly disclosed. These funds pressured at least 2 companies in 2021. Insightia analysis and a Reuters study found that only around 20% of board members last year were women. That compares with 30% for component company boards.

Elliott oversees $48.4 billion. Ancora oversees $9.4billion. They both stated they made it their priority to find women directors. ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) is gaining prominence in investors’ eyes, who need the support of hedge funds.

I make over 100 calls per annum with directors. Christine O’Brien from Elliott, who heads investment stewardship, stated that about 80% of directors she speaks with are women.

Jim Chadwick, Ancora’s vice-president, stated that his company was trying to revive stale boards because it discovered too many of them were “instinctively isolated” due to the fact they had a group of similar-minded directors who are usually mostly men.

Board appointments by activist hedge funds Starboard Value LP, Land & Buildings Investment Management LLC and Inclusive Capital Partners LP also beat the S&P 500’s 30% level last year.

Starboard’s board was restructured by Jeffrey Smith. Insightia reports that there were four women and fourteen men on the 2019 Starboard Board. The 2017 Starboard Board consisted of three men, three women and one man. Out of three directors Land & Buildings installed last year, one was a woman. Inclusive was founded in 2005 by Jeff Ubben (ex-CEO of ValueAct). It had three male directors and two female board members.

A Land & Buildings spokesperson said that nearly 60% of the individuals the fund had “directly or indirectly” added to boards in the last five years were women.

Anne Sullivan was Inclusive’s chief operating officer.

Starboard didn’t respond to our requests for comment.

Jana Partners LLC was the hedge fund managed by Barry Rosenstein. It disclosed that it intends to name three female directors out of eight candidates.

Jennifer Fanjiang (chief legal officer) stated that Jana is dedicated to increasing diversity on board.


While Icahn Enterprises LP was active, other major hedge funds and investors did not appoint any female board members in 2021.

According to Insightia, Icahn Enterprises is run by Carl Icahn, a billionaire investor who has been fighting for change at businesses for over four decades. He has only installed one woman on the board of Icahn Enterprises in the past three years out of the 19 directors that he has placed.

Icahn proposed in November a 10-person Southwest Gas Holdings Inc slate, which included four women.

Icahn refused to comment.

Trewstar Corporate Board Services chief executive Beth Stewart said that more activist hedge funds are looking for women because they can appeal to high-profile ESG-minded money mangers like BlackRock Inc (NYSE) and State Street Global Advisors (NYSE:) for supporting high stakes shareholder vote campaigns.

Stewart said, “I believe the word is out that there are many talented women out there. So why not?” Stewart stated.