Editorials in three countries focus on Barbarians

Barbarians in the Boardroom has been the subject of several editorials in recent days. In an editorial in Scotland's The Herald, political editor Iain Macwhirter wrote: "Many of the super-rich are more visible in their pursuit of ever greater wealth. They are according to the Financial Times journalist, Owen Walker, the 'activist investors' who wreak havoc in company boardrooms, mainly in America. Based in the hedge fund universe on the fringes of the known galaxy, these super-nova rich occasionally explode into public view."

In a comment piece for Investors Chronicle, companies editor Ian Smith called the case studies covered in Barbarians "remarkable". "Retail shareholders will not be left out of this fight" Smith added. "Activist Elliott Advisors went so far as to employ its own registrar and send out proxy cards to shareholders in its battle with Alliance Trust. For those struggles that break cover, it may be down to you to decide whether to let the barbarians through the door."

Elsewhere, Simon Cocking, senior editor at Irish Tech News, wrote: "The book is well written and tells the story well of major upheavals or challenges at Yahoo, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft among others. It’s interesting to see how often CEO’s and board members end up being overthrown due to unrest among shareholders. Often for potentially short term reasons too. It does help illustrate the down side of going public and leaving yourself open to these sort of share holder upheavals, demonstrating the IPOs come with a downside too. The case studies are useful and interesting to read. Walker suggests that boards now tend to be quicker to respond to investor unhappiness to avoid proxy contests which invariably end up with blood on the floor for many board members."