Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Not long ago this blog commented on a Business Round Table declaration of 200 CEOs that they would serve all stakeholders and not just shareholders. My opinion stated that the principles were good until an activist shareholder (an institution) took offense. AT&T is about to find out. A large institution has taken a position in its stock and is pressing the company to spin off some of its businesses. It isn't happy with management and would like to replace them too. Now AT&T's CEO has a choice he might not have envisioned when he inked the principles a few weeks ago. Does he kowtow to the shareholder or bluff his way through? His board will be a factor as well. Are directors eager to pay down the company's huge debt burden or to continue the course? The CEOs one safety is that the activist institution only has a 1% stake in the corporation and will have difficulties replacing directors, but its call for change is a warning shot, and other stakeholders might have to take a back seat.