This week on Masters in Business I sit with hedge fund manager (and son of Senator Phil Gramm) Jeff Gramm about activist investing. He is the author of Dear Chairman: Boardroom Battles and the Rise of Shareholder Activism.
Gramm discusses looking unsuccessfully for one of Warren Buffett’s early and unpublished activist letters that were described in books such as The Snowball. He wrote to Berkshire Hathaway, asking about it and was surprised to receive a package from Buffett a few weeks later. It contained a copy of the unpublished letter, along with permission to use it in his writing. A very similar thing occurred with Ross Perot, and some of his unpublished letters to General Motors (Perot was both a board member and GM’s largest shareholder at the time).
It became clear that a book on activist investing was in the making.
Gramm also discusses his prior life as Guitarist for the indie band Aden. (Their eponymously named first album was deemed “an underrated classic by Heave media). He describes the lessons you learn touring in a small vehicle in close proximity to three other guys, and how those experiences eventually led him to Columbia Business School.
We also discuss what its like growing up a Senator (and one time Presidential candidate)’s son in Washington D.C., (yes, I barely managed to restrain myself from asking him about the obvious Creedance tune)
You can hear the full interview, including the podcast extras, below, or by downloading the podcast at iTunes, Soundcloud or Bloomberg. All of our earlier podcasts can be found at iTunes, Soundcloud and Bloomberg.
Next week, we speak with Gina Martin Adams, Wells Fargo’s head of Equity Strategy.