Wednesday 23 January 2013 7:44 pm

Activist investors spend $12bn and push for change on boards

THE WORLD’S biggest activist investors spent a third more building up disclosable shareholders last year, and used their influence mostly to gain boardoom seats, according to industry research.In a year that saw FTSE firms Xstrata, Intercontinenal Hotels and Alliance Trust attract activist interest, the biggest spent $12bn (£7.6bn) on disclosable stakes in 2012, from less than $9bn in 2011.Bulldog Investors was the most active in 2012, according to research by Activist Insight. It made 12 new investments and exited one.The most common strategy is to gain a seat at the top table, almost always in US firms. Of the 135 investments in the research, 58 saw a push for board representation, of which 45 succeeded.The strategies appear to pay off: the figures show that activist funds beat the MSCI World Index by 5.54 percentage points in the nine months to the end of September.