Shareholder Activism in Germany

41 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2019

See all articles by Andreas Engert

Andreas Engert

Freie Universität Berlin, Department of Law; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Date Written: August 1, 2019


Shareholder activism by hedge funds has taken hold in Germany in spite of large ownership concentration. This essay uses the example of Stada Arzneimittel AG to highlight features of activism, German style. It goes on to discuss the legal issues raised by activist campaigns at the two stages of acquiring a shareholding in the target company and, subsequently, of interacting with its management and pressuring for strategic or corporate governance changes. In light of the theory and evidence on the short-term and long-term effects of shareholder activism, the essay concludes that German and European law has rightly refrained from intervening in this most recent corporate governance development. The law lacks a reliable filter to sort desirable from undesirable forms of activism.

Keywords: shareholder activism, hedge fund activism, major shareholdings disclosure, insider trading, company secrets

JEL Classification: G34, K22

Suggested Citation

Engert, Andreas, Shareholder Activism in Germany (August 1, 2019). European Corporate Governance Institute - Law Working Paper No. 470/2019, Available at SSRN: or

Andreas Engert (Contact Author)

Freie Universität Berlin, Department of Law ( email )

Boltzmannstr. 3
Berlin, 14195

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels

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