Activism rise creates new cover demand

The rise in the willingness of shareholders to take actions against the companies in which they invest has led to the creation of a new cover to protect businesses.

Volante’s Syndicate 1699 at Lloyd’s has announced the launch of the new product, Shareholder Activist Protection Insurance (SAPI).

It comes as Insightia, Volante’s data partner for the product, said shareholder activist campaigns in Europe reached a record level of 200 campaigns in 2019, before cooling-off in 2020 due to Covid-19.

Activist investing rose substantially in Europe between 2014 and 2018, with the number of companies publicly targeted almost doubling in that period. The UK remains the most active market for shareholder activists in Europe, representing 37 of 192 European public campaigns in 2020. Activist campaigns are now bouncing back, with activists also targeting smaller listed companies

SAPI is the first policy of its kind to provide standalone expense cover for shareholder activist activity. It was developed by Volante Global in collaboration with broker Marsh and provides insurance for costs incurred by a listed company to defend against a shareholder activist campaign, including fees relating to the appointment of legal, consulting and communications specialists, as well as any additional proxy costs.

SAPI is available to listed companies operating across all market sectors with a market cap between $5 million and $10 billion. SAPI is launching in the UK first and is available exclusively through Marsh for the UK market. EU roll-out is planned for the second quarter of the year with available limits starting from $1 million to $6 million.

Volante managing director, Hans Martin Døhlen, said: “Many organisations assume that costs for shareholder activism is covered by a D&O policy – but this is rarely the case. SAPI is an industry first designed specifically to address this rapidly evolving corporate threat. By combining innovative insurance cover with mitigation via leading partners, we are encouraging clients to improve their activist defence strategy. In the new world of ‘ESG’ accountability, an insurer must support clients in innovating pro-active insurance solutions to manage emerging risk – SAPI does exactly that.”

The risk mitigation component of the coverage provides access to legal and consulting companies with expert knowledge in the field of shareholder activism. Working directly with clients, the specialists help companies to develop robust activist strategies to assess their exposure to activist activity, mitigate associated risks and improve response capabilities in the event of an activist campaign.

Matt Terry, head of FINPRO National, Marsh Specialty, said: “The costs associated with shareholder activism campaigns is a growing exposure for our clients, especially those in the UK where high profile and well-funded action is increasingly linked to ESG matters. SAPI is an exciting innovation which provides UK clients with the critical risk mitigation services they need in today’s environment, while protecting their balance sheets and supporting their wider ESG strategies.”

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