Caley Petrucci & Guhan Subramanian, Pills in a World of Activism and ESG, 1 U. Chi. Bus. L. Rev. 417 (2022).
Abstract: Easterbrook and Fischel’s The Economic Structure of Corporate Law advances their now famous passivity thesis, which posits that managers should remain passive in the face of an unsolicited tender offer for the company’s shares. Consistent with the broader Chicago-school economic belief, Easterbrook and Fischel argue that markets are generally efficient, and therefore restrictions on the market (like poison pills) are bad. In doing so, Easterbrook and Fischel also consider and reject externalities that might cause the market for corporate control to not function well. Thirty years have passed since Easterbrook and Fischel’s seminal work and the world has changed in meaningful ways, with the rise of stakeholder governance, ESG, and stockholder activism. We therefore propose some ground rules that would govern pills in today’s corporate world. These rules, we believe, would effectively balance the board’s interest in considering a broad set of constituencies and the challenges of facing increasingly sophisticated and coordinated shareholder activists against the rights of all shareholders, including activists, to solicit support for their ideas or attempt to gain control of the company.