Knight Vinke Asset Management
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New York City, United States
Knight Vinke Asset Management is an American privately owned investment management firm that makes a business of investing in under-performing bluechip companies, then pushes for institutional changes in those companies which in turn increase the share value of the company, which then profits Knight Vinke.
Knight Vinke shot to fame in 2004 when it persuaded Royal Dutch Shell to abandon its dual British-Dutch corporate structure despite owning only 0.03% of its shares.
Knight Vinke recently reopened the debate about investment banking by publishing an open letter in the Financial Times calling on the Swiss bank UBS to review whether or not it should continue to own its wealth management business under the same roof as its investment bank. Signed by Eric Knight, the letter argued that the excessive risk within the UBS investment banking operations between 2007 and 2009 nearly destroyed the bank and a simplification of the group's structure would help the bank unlock its full value potential.
In February 2013, Darty appointed Eric Knight to the board following a profit warning. Knight Vinke, which has a 25% stake in Darty, said it was frustrated at the pace of change, and would exercise its right to join the board with immediate effect.
Knight Vinke has been an institutional investor in Eni for over 5 years and since 2009 has been calling for the state-controlled Italian oil and gas group to break itself up. It has argued that Eni's ownership of the gas pipeline operator Snam left both with the wrong capital structure; Eni was overgeared for an exploration and production company, while Snam, as a regulated utility, was undergeared.
Knight Vinke played an important role in derailing a major acquisition of VNU. In late 2007, it started to challenge the strategy and governance of HSBC. In June 2009, HSBC's largest shareholder, Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM), became the first major shareholder to offer public support for Eric Knight's activism, and urged HSBC to pay heed and answer questions.
- Top HSBC investor offers support to Knight Vinke, Reuters, 17 June 2009, (accessed 18 June 2009)
- Manager Magazin - UBS - September 2013
- Tages Anzeiger - Interview with Eric Knight - August 2013
- Reuters - Knight Vinke still fears for UBS wealth business - July 2013
- FT Video - Next Steps for UBS - July 2013
- L'Agefi - article on Knight Vinke + UBS - June 2013
- EFinancial News (William Wright) - Would breaking up UBS be so hard to do? - June 2013
- Guardian comment (Nils Pratley) - UBS investors should listen to some uncomfortable truths from small investors - May 2013
- What Does Knight Vinke Want from HSBC?
- Company official website
- The Times - Ian King comment - Actively makes a difference - May 2012
- Evening Standard comment (Anthony Hilton) - Shareholder voices must be heard
- Guardian comment (Nils Pratley) - HSBC's Strategy Sounds Familiar - May 2011
- Evening Standard comment (Anthony Hilton) - Activist voices can make a difference - September 2010
- BBC news article on recent Knight Vinke activities