Why we bother: a primer in how activism enhances returns*

Fordham Finance, Securities and Tax Law Forum
Fordham University School of Law | March 13, 1997

* This speech was part of Fordham University School of Law symposium, entitled Reshaping Corporate Governance & Shareholder Activism for the 21st Century.

Jon Lukomnik **

** Jon Lukomnik oversees nearly $70 billion in pension fund assets as the Deputy Comptroller for Pensions for the City of New York. He also serves as a trustee for four major defined benefit pension systems, one major defined contribution system and several smaller systems, with assets of more than $80 billion. He is co-author of ALPHA: THE POSITIVE SIDE OF RISK (Investors Press, 1996) and has written articles in Directorship and Global Investor.

Text: 5,278 words
… It may be peculiar to be at a law forum as a non-lawyer, but I think what Kim [Morrow] had in mind was for me to answer the fundamental question: Why do we care? Why has corporate governance become so mainstream in the last dozen years that, as Professor Katsoris said, enhancing shareholder value has become a virtually meaningless mantra, whispered by every CEO, corporate raider, corporate governance activist, the press and anyone else who cares to comment? I think answering that question is a good idea. … We are very content to be in the dining room asking whether the chef knows what he is cooking, as opposed to cooking ourselves. … What we really try to do is to remove any impediments to good corporate governance, not dictate what corporate strategy should be. … A corporate governance activist, Nell Minow of the Washington, D.C. based Lens Fund puts it a different way, only partially tongue in cheek. … I want to thank the Fordham Finance, Securities and Tax Law Forum and Kim Morrow for this opportunity. …

n32 See Alyssa A. Lappen, “BGI Thinks Big,” INST. INVESTOR, Apr. 1, 1997, at 62 (discussing the analytical strategy of outperforming the S & P in a very risk-controlled manner).

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Alyssa A. Lappen is a U.S.-based investigative journalist. She is the former Managing Editor at the Leeb Group (2012-2017); a former Senior Fellow of the American Center for Democracy (2005-2008); and a former Senior Editor of Institutional Investor (1993-1999), Working Woman (1991-1993) and Corporate Finance (1991). She served six of her 12 years at Forbes (1978-1990) as an Associate Editor. Ms. Lappen was also a staff reporter at The New Haven Register (1975-1977). During a decade as a freelance, her work appeared in Big Peace, Pajamas Media, Front Page Magazine, American Thinker, Right Side News, Family Security Matters, the Washington Times and many other Internet and print journals. Ms. Lappen also contributed to the Terror Finance Blog, among others. She supports the right of journalists worldwide to write without fear or restriction on politics, governments, international affairs, terrorism, terror financing and religious support for terrorism, among other subjects. Ms. Lappen is also an accomplished poet. Her first full-length collection, The Minstrel's Song, was published by Cross-Cultural Communications in April 2015. Her poems have been published in the 2nd 2007 edition of Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust and both 2007 issues of Wales' award-winning Seventh Quarry: Swansea Poetry Magazine. Dozens of her poems have appeared in print and online literary journals and books. She won the 2000 annual Ruah: A Journal of Spiritual Poetry chapbook award and has received a Harvard Summer Poetry Prize and several honorable mentions.

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