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Activist Investing Today: Foo Talks Vetting Directors for All Shareholders

Published: June 27th, 2024
Forward Risk co-founder Brendan Foo dismisses assertions that business intelligence advisers to activists are knocking on doors in an aggressive way.

A business intelligence firm’s work vetting incumbent directors for an activist investor benefits all shareholders, according to Brendan Foo, co-CEO of investigations company Forward Risk and Intelligence Inc.

“It is very easy to think about our vetting process as just vetting so the activist can unseat an incumbent director, but a lot of times the work we’re doing on directors, that’s stuff shareholders at large might find salient,” Foo told the Activist Investing Today podcast. “If there is an individual on the board that has overstated or misstated their credentials, or they have temperament, judgment, character issues, or they are well known for overseeing a corporate environment culture that is corrosive and full of bullying and harassment, these are things shareholders want to know as well.”

Foo dismissed assertions that some business intelligence advisers to activists are knocking on doors in an aggressive and crude way. He said that in more than 95% of situations in which Forward Risk is advising either activists or companies, the work it does is based on public, open-sourced research.

“Very rarely are we asked to knock on doors, or to speak to former coworkers, adversaries, others,” he said. “These are highly contested public company situations where the risk of running afoul of a whole series of regulations and laws is so high.”

Forward Risk has staff in Washington, New York and London, and roughly 40% of its overall work involves activism. In a typical year, about half of its activism-related clients in the U.S. and Canada are investors.

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