Shareholder activism in Belgium: boon or curse for sustainable value creation?

Thursday 9 June 2022

Please find below the presentations for tomorrow event :

Setting the scene: causes and consequences of shareholder activism (Tom Vos, University of Antwerp)
Setting the scene: ESG-focused shareholder activism (Anna Christie, University of Edinburgh and University of Cambridge)
Setting the scene: recent trends in (ESG) shareholder activism (Wouter Gabriëls, Lazard)

The activist’s (legal and extra-legal) toolbox (Pierre Nothomb, Deminor)
The company’s rights, challenges and obligations when faced with activism  (Deborah Janssens & Sigrid Ververken, Freshfields)
Securities law and shareholder activism (Marijke Spooren, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton)

The view from a non-profit activist (Maria van der Heide, ShareAction)
The view from an asset manager (Carey Evans, Managing Director BlackRock)
The view from the FSMA: what (not) to expect from the securities and markets regulator (Annemie Rombouts, FSMA)

Shareholder activism in the Belgian courtroom (Robbie Tas, KU Leuven and Intui & Karel Schulpen, Arcas Law)
Shareholder activism in the Dutch courtroom (Sven Dumoulin, VU Amsterdam and De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek)

Shareholder activism is already an established phenomenon in the US. In Europe, including Belgium, shareholder activism is on the rise and expected to become more and more important. Investors increasingly voice their discontent, instead of opting for the exit. This new attitude will change the dynamic between investors and boards.

Gone are the days where shareholders exclusively focused on their financial return. Today, financial objectives are complemented with the realization of ESG objectives. This push towards sustainability creates new battlefields between investors and boards.

Notwithstanding its importance, the topic of shareholder activism has not yet been explored in Belgium. To fill this gap, the Federation of Enterprises in Belgium (VBO FEB) and the Jean-Pierre Blumberg Chair at the University of Antwerp organize a one-day conference to explore the present and future of activism in Belgium. Old and new forms of activism will be presented and situated in their financial and legal context.

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