Staff Reports
Activist Manipulation Dynamics
Number 1030
September 2022

JEL classification: D82, G14, G23

Authors: Doruk Cetemen, Gonzalo Cisternas, Aaron Kolb, and S. Viswanathan

Two activists with correlated private positions in a firm’s stock, trade sequentially before simultaneously exerting effort that determines the firm’s value. We document the existence of a novel linear equilibrium in which an activist’s trades have positive sensitivity to her block size, but such orders are not zero on average: the leader activist manipulates the price to induce the follower to acquire a larger position and thus add more value. We examine the implications of this equilibrium for market outcomes and discuss its connection with the prominent phenomenon of “wolf-pack” activism—multiple hedge funds engaging in parallel with a target firm. We also explore the possibility of other equilibria where the activists trade against their initial positions.

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AUTHOR DISCLOSURE STATEMENT(S)
Doruk Cetemen
The author declares that he has no relevant or material financial interests that relate to the research described in this paper. Prior to circulation, this paper was reviewed in accordance with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York review policy, available at https://www.newyorkfed.org/research/staff_reports/index.html.

Gonzalo Cisternas
The author declares that he has no relevant or material financial interests that relate to the research described in this paper. Prior to circulation, this paper was reviewed in accordance with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York review policy, available at https://www.newyorkfed.org/research/staff_reports/index.html.

Aaron Kolb
The author declares that he has no relevant or material financial interests that relate to the research described in this paper. Prior to circulation, this paper was reviewed in accordance with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York review policy, available at https://www.newyorkfed.org/research/staff_reports/index.html.

S. Viswanathan
The author declares that he has no relevant or material financial interests that relate to the research described in this paper. Prior to circulation, this paper was reviewed in accordance with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York review policy, available at https://www.newyorkfed.org/research/staff_reports/index.html.

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