COVER STORY: The Shareholder Reformation

Jul 1, 2014

Activist shareholders are forcing change in corporate management across Latin America — with big implications for how the region’s corporations do business and potentially also for their cost of funds. By Dominic O’Neill and Katie Llanos-Small

For Teresa Barger, Chilean billionaire álvaro Saieh’s luxurious Fifth Avenue apartment provided a welcome respite from the New York winter one bitterly cold day last December.

Barger, managing director at Cartica Capital — a shareholder in CorpBanca, the Chilean bank Saieh controls — says the businessman that afternoon graciously offered her a tour of his residence, including a viewing of his private collection of early Renaissance Italian art, much of it dating back to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

"He’s very personable, very cultured," Barger says in an interview. She left the meeting reassured that Saieh and CorpBanca would act in the interest of all shareholders — including minority investor Cartica — in a proposed M&A deal. That’s precisely what CorpBanca, Chile’s third largest commercial lender, says it did.

But by June, Cartica and Saieh were on opposite sides of an increasingly acrimonious legal battle as the asset manager...

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