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Value Investing with Legends

Apr 9, 2021

Listeners of this podcast will know that I believe one of the most dynamic areas of investing is that of activism. In the true spirit of value investing, there’s a crop of activist investors who are now embracing their role in engaging management in various ways, whether to improve operational performance, address governance issues, or simply to encourage better capital allocation and distribution policies.


Today we’re exploring this topic further with Anne-Sophie d’Andlau. Anne-Sophie co-founded CIAM with her partner, Catherine Berjal, in 2010. Since then they have led several groundbreaking activist campaigns in Europe, capturing the attention of the financial press everywhere.


Anne-Sophie is a Partner and Deputy CEO at CIAM and she is responsible for the fund’s strategy and development. CIAM, which stands for Charity Investment Asset Management, donates 25% of its annual performance fees to charities dedicated to improving children's health and education across the world. Before founding CIAM, Anne-Sophie worked at Systeia Capital Management from 2001 to 2008, first as Head of Research for the Event Driven and M&A strategies, then taking on a portfolio management role from 2003 to 2008.


On this episode, Anne-Sophie and I talk about how she started her career in finance, how CIAM evolved into active investment, why Europe is well-suited for a new wave of activist investors, CIAM’s approach to idea sourcing, analysis, and risk management, what Anne-Sophie hopes to see for the future of activism in Europe, and so much more!


Key Topics:

  • The story of the first activist investor, Ben Graham (1:45)
  • Introducing Anne-Sophie (4:24)
  • How Anne-Sophie’s interest in finance led to a front-row seat to late 90s IPOs (5:43)
  • Participating in the launch of the first hedge fund in France (7:05)
  • Why CIAM evolved into activism (9:50)
  • Factors driving the new wave of activism in Europe (11:28)
  • Moving away from the negative connotation of activism (13:21)
  • The lack of recognition of activism as an asset class in Europe (15:23)
  • Anne-Sophie’s hope for change in the mindset of European institutional investors (17:09)
  • CIAM’s approach to consulting with management and shareholders (19:08)
  • Understanding why there’s so much room for activism in Europe (21:01)
  • Similarities and differences between European markets (22:00)
  • Why CIAM chose the countries they operate within (23:32)
  • The benefits of a UK office (25:13)
  • CIAM’s decision against actively investing in Italy (26:39)
  • CIAM’s method of idea sourcing (27:41)
  • Examining Euro Disney as a case study of what good activism can do (28:38)
  • Initial problems identified by CIAM at Euro Disney (31:51)
  • CIAM’s campaigns as minority shareholders at Euro Disney (33:31)
  • CIAM’s approach to information collection (35:46)
  • The non-activist side of CIAM (36:56)
  • How CIAM balances internal skillsets with outside advice and experts (38:28)
  • Why AGM season is a key moment for activist investors (40:46)
  • Investor relationships with proxy advisors in Europe (41:43)
  • CIAM’s risk management strategy (42:38)
  • Looking to the future of activism in Europe (45:01)
  • How activism creates positive change (47:11)
  • And much more!


Mentioned in this Episode:


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