Activist investors buy a significant stake in a publicly-held corporation and then use their reputations to push for change that will "unlock shareholder value". Basically, they push for major changes, such as a corporation splitting up or dumping a money-losing division, so that the share price will rise. What is interesting about activist investors is that when they win, ordinary investors, who own the same common stock as the activist investor (just less of it), also benefit.
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