Library Journal Advance Reviews

November 15, 2015

*Gramm, Jeff.

Dear Chairman: Boardroom Battles and the Rise of Shareholder Activism.

Harper Business. Feb. 2016. 320p. notes. index. ISBN 9780062369833. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062369840. ECON

Gramm (investing, Columbia Business Sch.), who operates a value-oriented hedge fund, presents eight major and multiple other instances in the last 100 years in which individuals have challenged public company boards to improve shareholder value. All the examples presented show company managements and boards that seemed more beholden to one another than to their shareholders. Gramm profiles generally well-known figures who are powerful in their own right. They include Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffett, Carl Icahn, and Ross Perot. For each, the author provides a background, the corporate situation involved, and why the particular case is important. He depicts Perot as a populist maverick who challenged the General Motors’ accounting mind-set that in the 1980s handicapped the company in competing with surging Asian car manufacturers. Gramm shows how each case fits in to what he sees as a long-term trend to greater shareholder activism in public company governance. Appendixes contain the text of the complaint letters sent to the boards in the eight primary cases. VERDICT Entertaining as well as intriguing, Gramm’s work is a great read for both students of business and interested general readers.

—Lawrence Maxted, Gannon Univ. Lib., Erie, PA