Institutional Trading and Hedge Fund Activism

60 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2012 Last revised: 28 Aug 2016

See all articles by Nickolay Gantchev

Nickolay Gantchev

Southern Methodist University (SMU) - Finance Department; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Chotibhak Jotikasthira

Southern Methodist University (SMU) - Finance Department

Date Written: August 27, 2016


This paper investigates the role of institutional trading in the emergence of hedge fund activism – an important corporate governance mechanism. We demonstrate that institutional sales raise a firm’s probability of becoming an activist target. Further, by exploiting the funding circumstances of individual institutions, we establish that such effects occur through a liquidity channel – the activist camouflages his purchases among other institutions’ liquidity sales. Additional evidence supports our conclusion. First, activist purchases closely track institutional sales at the daily frequency. Second, such synchronicity is stronger among targets with lower expected monitoring benefits, suggesting that gains from trading with other institutions supplement these benefits in the activist’s targeting decision. Finally, we find that institutional sales accelerate the timing of a campaign at firms already followed by activists rather than attract attention to unlikely targets. Taken together, our findings offer a novel empirical perspective on the liquidity theories of activism; while activists screen firms on the basis of fundamentals, they pick specific targets at a particular time by exploiting institutional liquidity shocks.

Keywords: Shareholder activism, Corporate governance, Hedge funds, Institutional investors

JEL Classification: G11, G12, G23, G34

Suggested Citation

Gantchev, Nickolay and Jotikasthira, Chotibhak, Institutional Trading and Hedge Fund Activism (August 27, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Nickolay Gantchev (Contact Author)

Southern Methodist University (SMU) - Finance Department ( email )

United States
214-768-4128 (Phone)

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )


Chotibhak Jotikasthira

Southern Methodist University (SMU) - Finance Department ( email )

United States

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