How does an activist hedge fund manager express to executives at the subject of of his activism that they’re in his world now? That proposed changes to the company will happen with or without management? That we can do this the easy way or the hard way? Some threaten to take things public, via CNBC, Twitter, and the like. Others use well-timed coughs to mutter “Box up your crap, because you’re all going to be out of here by the end of the day” (followed by “I’m sorry, nagging tickle in my throat”). The best of the bunch, though, the most seasoned activists in the game, prefer a more subtle approach.
… even though activists are more refined in their methods today, many keep a bully tactic or two in their back pocket. A partner at one activist hedge fund, based in New York, has a mug he likes to use during talks with corporate executives. The mug features the photographs of chairmen his hedge fund has removed in earlier activist campaigns.
Said manager presumably came up with this idea after his general counsel deemed rigging a conference room closet door so halfway through meetings it would open and dummies baring uncanny likenesses of axed CEOs would come tumbling out “too much.”