Dead Hand Proxy Puts and Shareholder Value
We study the impact of Dead Hand Proxy Puts on shareholder value. Courts and commentators have characterized these terms as defenses against hedge fund activism that threaten to reduce firm value by entrenching underperforming managers and thereby increasing managerial agency costs. Our findings contradict this view. Using three court cases as a natural experiment, we find that shareholders do not react negatively to the inclusion of a Dead Hand Proxy Put in a firm’s loan agreements. Not only do Dead Hand Proxy Puts not destroy firm value, they may even preserve it by deterring activists who would seek to extract wealth from creditors and other nonshareholder constituencies. We develop the policy implications of these findings and offer a direction for the evolution of legal doctrine in this area.