The Proxy Fight at ADP
In July 2017, shares of Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP) surged 12% following a report that the activist investor Bill Ackman had acquired a sizable stake in the company and planned to nominate his own slate of directors at the company's annual meeting in November. Over the months that followed, Ackman and ADP engaged in an increasingly acrimonious battle of words about the future of ADP. Ackman argued that the company was materially underperforming its potential and could substantially improve its operating margins. ADP vigorously rebutted Ackman's assertions, arguing that none of his ideas were new and that ADP shares had outperformed the market. As the November deadline loomed, ADP shareholders needed to decide whether to vote for Ackman's slate of directors or the company's slate. In making this choice, shareholders needed to consider a single, critical question: Is ADP achieving its maximum potential?