Jeff Gramm manages a hedge fund and teaches value investing at Columbia Business School. His recently published book, Dear Chairman: Boardroom Battles and the Rise of Shareholder Activism, has been praised as “a terrific read” by Andrew Ross Sorkin in the New York Times, “a revelation” by the Financial Times, “a grand story” by The Wall Street Journal, and “an engaging and informative book” by The New Yorker.
Jeff’s Book Recommendation:
Five Good Questions:
- I’ve heard you previously interviewed and have been impressed with your thoughts around governance and board dynamics. How can boards help management make better strategic decisions, especially with respect to capital allocation?
- I’ve heard Munger say you could teach an entire MBA just from studying GM. Could you walk us through some of your insights, specifically during the period of Ross Perot’s involvement?
- Of all of the stories, which one was your favorite to research?
- We all see these major headlines of activists battling with management, but what percent of the work would you guess is being done behind the scenes?
- The arc of activism seems to have gone from Graham’s “would you mind releasing some of these pent up assets, please?” to Icahn’s 1980s hostile takeovers to Loeb’s poison pen and quite personal attacks. Maybe it’s softening a little from there? Where do you see the future of activism going from here?