If you don’t support the party line, don’t speak
The hostility is not a result of the paper I was to present, “Activist Hedge Funds in a World of Board Independence: Creators or Destroyers of Long-Term Value?,” which is forthcoming in the Columbia Business Law Review, and then discuss with a distinguished panel. Instead, it appears to be because of an exchange of comments I had on a corporate-governance blog concerning the shout-down of my recent R Street policy brief, “Public-pension funds play with newest toy in corporate governance.”
I believe my presentation would have been extremely educational for CII members and possibly change their way of thinking about hedge-fund activism. Yet I understand that the CII has the right to withdraw its invitation if the conference managers so choose. Given that the CII is still dominated by public and union pension funds, at least based on the make-up of its board of directors, I should not be surprised by their decision.
Nonetheless, it is very disappointing to see that the action was taken because of the expectation that there was going to be a critical mass of participants so intolerant of my views on the use of proxy access by public pension funds that they would create a hostile environment during my presentation. To have members like that does not reflect well on the organization and the positions it advocates.