Sunday, February 5, 2017

Review of The White Sharks of Wall Street: Thomas Mellon Evans and the Original Corporate Raiders by Diana B. Henriques

Thomas Mellon Evans was a raider who took control of companies in the 1950s, decades before the LBO/M&A boom. This biography, White Sharks is perhaps the poorer cousin of the recent Dear Chairman, which I think is a better pro-activism book.

However, it's good to be steeped in this stuff if you want to do it, to know the history and where the rules and traditions of activism and takeovers came from. Just a funny example, the SEC's "flimsy proxy rules" were "designed for the polite coronation of incumbent management," and not, you know, an actual contested election. (Which reminds me, I do not think that it is legitimate for management to use shareholder money to lobby the shareholders to keep their sinecures.)

And speaking of roll-ups and conglomerates, this sheds light on why the 60s conglomerates were built of dissimilar companies instead of being horizontal or vertical integration strategies:

"The government's widely publicized antitrust initiatives, so infuriating to Tom Evans, had made most new company-shoppers more careful. They shunned companies whose business or products resembled their own, and they ignored vendors and distributors who stood upstream and downstream from their own manufacturing processes."
What a typical unintended consequence of regulation.


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