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Activist Funds' impact on Blue Chip Companies in Sweden : Analysing the implications on capital structure, valuation and credit rating

by Wahlström, Johan; Karlsson, Christian

Abstract (Summary)
Background: The Swedish blue chip companies are performing better than ever, but have been strongly criticised for being too slow in their excess fund allocation. Companies with overcapitalised balance sheets and no investment needs are potential targets for activist funds’ business idea of more aggressive capital structures and financial restructuring. In media, this debate has raised criticism against these so called short-sighted, greedy asset-strippers that destroy company values and increase the companies’ risk of default. In prior cases where activist funds have taken actions, the market has responded positively through increasing the share price. However, sceptics argue that the higher share price is merely a response to a speculative reaction with no fundamental argument supporting the upgrade in market capitalisation.Purpose: The purpose of this thesis is to establish a view of the phenomenon of activist funds and their impact on blue chip companies’, listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange, credit rating, capital structure and valuation.Method: To fulfil the purpose of our master thesis, a qualitative approach has been applied based on three cases involving the activities of activist funds. The empirical findings have been retrieved via personal communications with stock- and credit analysts, and the study also relies on articles and news coverage from media, stock market data and annual reports from each of the chosen companies respectively.Conclusion: The study has regarded the period of time which has been the investment horizon of the activist funds – explicitly and implicitly. Analysing their active ownership, the conclusion can be drawn that these activist funds have clearly had a positive impact on each of the blue chip companies’ performance and intrinsic value respectively. The financial restructuring has - contrarily to the criticism – strengthened the credit ratings in the cases of Lindex and Volvo. In the Skandia/Old Mutual-case, a marginally higher default risk was detected. Thus, the study has concluded that activist funds indeed add significant shareholder value without jeopardising the companies’ financial statuses.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Högskolan i Jönköping

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:activist funds venture capital dividend policy structure volvo lindex skandia old mutual m a cevian

ISBN:

Date of Publication:08/23/2007

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