Okapi Partners has a long history of working with mutual funds and their shareholders in different kinds of investor response campaigns. The influence of proxy advisory firms on votes in the mutual fund industry as well as the intersection of institutional shareholder activism and retail shareholder apathy have resulted in a growing need for sophisticated proxy solicitors. A mutual fund’s shareholder base can include a number of different players from 401(k) and corporate pension plans to retail investors and “objecting beneficial owners.”
Our Mutual Fund Proxy Solicitation team begins each solicitation assignment by initiating a comprehensive overview of the relevant investor constituent base for each fund as well as reviewing the pertinent issues involved in each specific solicitation for our client. Understanding the landscape allows us to effectively plan and execute a strategy tailored to our client’s specific needs. More than ever before, strategic advice really matters in the solicitation of fund shareholders and understanding where to focus resources is vital when planning a campaign. We help our clients by strategically contacting the investors who can be reached in a call campaign and also provide tactics and advice to get support from other significant investors. We work with fund management and advisors in every step of the process from planning the actual campaign, coordinating mailings, implementing call campaigns and bringing in the vote.
We also specialize in solicitation campaigns for closed-end funds. Through years of work for management on director elections, rights offerings, and dealing with shareholder proposals, we have extensive knowledge of the issues that concern investors in these funds. We know the processes and techniques necessary to advise management and solicit proxies in a contested situation.
We serve as Information Agent for closed-end funds requiring any corporate action, including a tender or an exchange offer, a rights offering, a share buyback or the shareholder election related to any such action. Each such action requires proper planning and communication to ensure optimal results. For these transactions, we provide strategic, tactical and content-related advice, and coordinate timing and mechanics. We oversee the production and distribution of materials to shareholders, as well as to banks, brokers, and other intermediaries. Through our call centers, we contact investors and respond to inquiries using dedicated toll-free phone numbers – always with the focus on making sure that all investors can get answers to questions and respond appropriately. Long-standing working relationships with leading investment banks and legal and financial public relations firms ensure well-executed, successful transactions.
Increased investor activism as well as the growing influence of proxy voting advisory firms (such as ISS and Glass Lewis) in the mutual fund sector means that funds can no longer take a one-size-fits-all approach to their solicitations. We enable fund clients to understand the composition of their shareholder base and the likely behavior in a solicitation under any set of potentially new and unique circumstances. We consult with clients and their legal and financial advisors to assist in crafting a campaign to optimize results. By taking a more considered and nuanced approach to investor communications and solicitation efforts, we provide strategic solicitation solutions beyond those previously offered to the investment management community.