A founding member of Joele Frank, Barrett advises Boards and management teams facing complex, high-profile events including proxy contests, mergers and acquisitions, unsolicited takeovers and special situations that threaten the Company’s reputation and their leadership’s credibility. Her clients are across sectors and include large, global public corporations as well as smaller, private enterprises both within the U.S. and abroad.
Over her 20 years with Joele Frank, she has advised scores of companies in their engagement with, and proxy contests against, some of the most prominent activist investors -- Carl Icahn, D.E. Shaw, Elliott Management, JANA, Starboard, Third Point, Trian, and ValueAct, among others. Notable public assignments include: Angie’s List, athenahealth, The Brink’s Company, Chico’s FAS, Commvault, Convergys, Darden, DTE, eBay, Evergy, Gateway, Hertz, Humana, Houston Exploration, HP, Magellan Health, NRG Energy, Orthofix, Papa John’s, Principal Financial, RB Global (fka Ritchie Bros.), Sotheby’s, Novartis and VISX.
Mergers & Acquisitions
A trusted M&A advisor, she develops and executes multi-stakeholder communications strategies that have influenced successful outcomes in hundreds of unsolicited, shareholder contested and negotiated M&A transactions.
Notable M&A transactions include: Agrium and PotashCorp in their merger of equals; Humana in its merger with Aetna and subsequent termination following DOJ litigation; Cronos Group in connection with its investment from Altria; Demandware in its sale to Salesforce; DTE Energy in its acquisition of the M5 midstream assets and subsequent spin-off of DTE Midstream; Great Plains in its acquisition of Westar, two-year regulatory review process and subsequent recut as a merger of equals; Jacobs in multiple transactions, including its acquisition of CH2M, transformative sale of its ECR business to WorleyParsons and the separation of its Critical Mission Solutions business; Xilinx in its sale to AMD; as well as various go-private transactions including, among others, AmTrust, Cleco, Cox Communications, CyrusOne, El Paso Electric, PAREXEL and Tech Data.
Among others, her contested transaction experience includes representing HP in its defense against Xerox; Rockwell Automation in its defense against Emerson; a consortium of buyers, including Humana, TPG Capital and Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, in their contested acquisition of Kindred; Connecticut Water in its defense against Evercore and subsequent combination with SJW Group; Atmel in its defense against Microchip Technology and ON Semiconductor; EDF in its acquisition of Constellation Energy’s nuclear assets following a proposal from Warren Buffett to acquire Constellation; and NRG Energy in its defense against Mirant.
Her crisis management experience touches a wide range of issues from the C-suite to the heart of a company’s culture – restatements and/or accounting fraud, misconduct allegations, ethical violations, management changes, short attacks, cybersecurity, regulatory investigations/actions, product liability and recalls, litigation, workplace violence, among others.
In recognition of her achievements, Barrett was named to PR Week’s inaugural “40 Under 40” list. She speaks frequently on subjects of proxy contests, activism, mergers and acquisitions, corporate crises and reputation management. Recent speaking events include panelist at the 2023 13D Monitor Active-Passive Investor Summit ("Defending Against Activism”) (October 2023); 35th Annual Tulane Corporate Law Institute (“Activism and ESG Considerations in Today’s World”) (March 2023); the Bloomberg 2022 Activism Forum (December 2022), panelist at 13D Monitor’s 2022 Active-Passive Investor Summit (October 2022), panelist at the 34th Annual Tulane Corporate Law Institute (panel on the impact of regulatory developments on M&A) (March 2022), Society for Corporate Governance SE Chapter (panel on corporate activism) (November 2021), Yale Law School (panel on internal investigations) (November 2021), Retail Industry Leaders Association (panel on corporate activism) (May 2021), 33rd Annual Tulane Corporate Law Institute (panel on Covid-19 and its impact on activism and public companies) (March 2021), Corporate Directors Forum (panel on corporate crisis communications) (February 2021), and Practicing Law Institute (panel on preparing for shareholder activism (October 2020).
She joined Joele Frank from Abernathy MacGregor Frank. Earlier she worked for Kirby McInerney & Squire and served in the office of Congressman Bob Goodlatte. She received a BA from the University of Virginia, where she also attended the University’s McIntire Institute for Business.