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Activist investor Bill Ackman, founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, says Brookfield Asset Management is blocking a deal to merge General Growth and Simon Property.
Activist investor Bill Ackman, founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, says Brookfield Asset Management is blocking a deal to merge General Growth and Simon Property.
(EDUARDO MUNOZ/REUTERS)

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Canada is ‘land of milk and honey’ for investor activism

Canada has become a promised land for activist shareholders, with battles cropping up at a quickening pace. But is that a good thing that shows boards are being held to account, or a sign that overly restive shareholders are distracting companies from their real business with constant uprisings?

That was one of the big questions addressed by a panel Tuesday that brought together some of the leading players in the activism business (and one journalist, as the author was the moderator). The panel, set up by Canada’s Venture Capital & Private Equity Association, could not have been more timely: big proxy battles at Agrium Inc. and Rona Inc. hit the headlines in the two weeks prior.