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Published by: University of St Gallen
Published in: 2019
Length: 15 pages
Data source: Field research

Abstract

This is part of a case series. This case explores the rising phenomenon of shareholder activism. In 2017, Clariant started merger talks with Huntsman USA. If successful, the combined company would create the world's largest specialty chemicals company. 'This is the perfect deal at the right time', says CEO Hariolf Kottmann. But these hopes are not fulfilled. The project fails as powerful, active investors enter the stage. After several intensive events on both sides, Clariant is forced to stop the planned merger. The case analyses in-depth the investor's tactics, including demands for Board seats and the usage of media to exert pressure on management to enforce changes on a range of issues - from corporate governance to strategic direction and excessive corporate overhead. Also, the case covers the defense mechanisms used by Clariant. It offers a valuable opportunity for students/executives to study shareholder activism from the perspective of the attacker on one side and the defending company on the other side. The case can be used in a general course on strategic management as well as a specialized course on mergers and acquisitions (M&A), corporate governance, or hedge funds.

Teaching and learning

This item is suitable for undergraduate, postgraduate and executive education courses.

Time period

The events covered by this case took place in 2017-2020.

Geographical setting

Region:
Europe
Country:
Switzerland

Featured company

Clariant
Employees:
10000+
Turnover:
CHF 6.5bn
Type:
Public company
Industry:
Specialty chemicals

About

Abstract

This is part of a case series. This case explores the rising phenomenon of shareholder activism. In 2017, Clariant started merger talks with Huntsman USA. If successful, the combined company would create the world's largest specialty chemicals company. 'This is the perfect deal at the right time', says CEO Hariolf Kottmann. But these hopes are not fulfilled. The project fails as powerful, active investors enter the stage. After several intensive events on both sides, Clariant is forced to stop the planned merger. The case analyses in-depth the investor's tactics, including demands for Board seats and the usage of media to exert pressure on management to enforce changes on a range of issues - from corporate governance to strategic direction and excessive corporate overhead. Also, the case covers the defense mechanisms used by Clariant. It offers a valuable opportunity for students/executives to study shareholder activism from the perspective of the attacker on one side and the defending company on the other side. The case can be used in a general course on strategic management as well as a specialized course on mergers and acquisitions (M&A), corporate governance, or hedge funds.

Teaching and learning

This item is suitable for undergraduate, postgraduate and executive education courses.

Settings

Time period

The events covered by this case took place in 2017-2020.

Geographical setting

Region:
Europe
Country:
Switzerland

Featured company

Clariant
Employees:
10000+
Turnover:
CHF 6.5bn
Type:
Public company
Industry:
Specialty chemicals

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