Bank of America most favored for activism defense in H1 2023 - LSEG data

Signage is seen at the Bank of America Tower in Manhattan, New York City

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bank of America vaulted past several rivals to rank as the top financial adviser to companies targeted by activist investors in the first six months of 2023, according to data published by LSEG.

During the first half, Bank of America advised on 33 campaigns, including defending Salesforce against Elliott Investment Management, Starboard Value, Inclusive Capital Partners and ValueAct. It also worked with LivePerson as it battled Starboard and Life Storage when it received an unsolicited offer from Public Storage .

Goldman Sachs, which slipped into second place for the first half according to LSEG data, advised on 30 campaigns, leading JPMorgan Chase which was in third place with 23 mandates.

A year ago, Bank of America ranked fifth with 12 mandates, trailing Goldman, JPMorgan, Spotlight Advisers and Morgan Stanley.

Among law firms which often work closely with banks to fend off activist investors, Sidley Austin held its position as the most favored by corporations with 32 mandates, the data show.

Olshan Frome Wolosky, which works only for activists, was the busiest law firm with 44 campaigns.

Sidley beat out Vinson & Elkins LLP which had 23 mandates and Schulte Roth & Zabel, which also works only with activists, with 22 campaigns. Wilson Sonsini jumped into fifth place from seventh a year ago with 15 mandates.

Innisfree M&A held onto its rank as the No. 1 proxy solicitor with 106 campaigns.

The top eight advisers, including Spotlight, LDG Advisory, Lazard and Evercore Partners worked on 136 campaigns in the first half, down from 165 campaigns in the first half of 2022.

Various providers compile league tables that are often used to win new clients. But they seldom tell the entire story, bankers say, noting that discrepancies can arise because many companies fend off activists privately and ask their advisers to stay silent about their involvement.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss, Editing by Nick Zieminski)