Clinton lashes out at activists in Apple, others

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton decried the effects of activist investors on American companies, citing firms that have been forced to face the likes of Carl Icahn, Bill Ackman and Dan Loeb.

During a Friday speech in which she proposed a series of reforms to capital gains taxes and corporate America, Clinton attacked "hit-and-run activists" who she said focus on extracting as much value as quickly as possible from companies.

"The second area where action is needed (after reforming capital gains taxes) is to address the influence of increasingly assertive shareholders determined to extract maximum profit in the minimum amount of time—even at the expense of future growth," she said.

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"Now so-called activist shareholders can have a positive influence on companies: It's a good thing when investors put pressure on management to stay nimble and accountable, or press for social and environmental progress," Clinton said. "But that's very different from these hit-and-run activists whose goal is to force an immediate payout no matter how much it discourages and distracts management from pursuing strategies that would add the most long-term value for the company."

She cited iconic companies Apple, Procter & Gamble and Dow Chemical that "have felt this pressure." (Activists Icahn, Ackman and Loeb have been involved in Apple, P&G and Dow, respectively.)

Representatives for Icahn and Loeb did not immediately return request for comment. A spokesman for Ackman's Pershing Square declined to comment.

"So we need a new generation of committed, long-term investors to provide a counter-weight to the hit-and-run activists," Clinton said.