The idea was to condemn hedge funders who’ve profited from fast food companies that “exploit workers” and pay “poverty-wages.”
What happened instead was a bunch of protesters storming a shareholder activist conference, targeting the wrong hedge fund managers, and disrupting a panel on how companies can defend themselves against activist takeovers.
Fortune’s Stephen Gandel reports that protesters invaded the Active-Passive Investor Summit in New York on Monday to condemn low wages paid at fast food spots owned by Darden Restaurants, which owns Olive Garden.
Protesters demanded restaurants begin paying their workers $US15 an hour, and chanted “Show me 15, Bill” — referring to shareholder activist Bill Ackman, Fortune reported.
But here’s the thing — Ackman doesn’t hold any Darden shares. He just happened to be a scheduled speaker at a different panel that day.
The discussion they did interrupt was designed to teach companies how they can protect themselves from shareholder activists, Fortune reported. Neither Ackman nor Jeff Smith, who does hold a stake in Darden, were on the panel.
In a press release circulated before the protest, organisers Hedge Clippers said, “Hedge fund investors Bill Ackman and Jeffrey Smith, both speakers at the Active-Passive Investor Summit, will be condemned for making fortunes by investing in exploitative businesses. Protestors will call on the companies that Ackman and Smith support to pay workers $US15/hour.”
Hedge Clippers describes itself as “a new campaign focused on exposing the misdeeds and harmful behaviour of the billionaire hedge fund elite.” It’s a fair cause, we suppose, but this last go-round looked pretty messy.
Here are some highlights of the protest from their Twitter feed: