A senior Treasury Department official endorsed the increasing shareholder activism of hedge funds Tuesday despite complaints from corporate managers that many are pressuring companies to abandon their long-term strategies in favor of short-term profits.

“The fact that hedge funds like any other investors in the marketplace, can purchase shares and then use those shares to influence company management in ways that they think will increase value of the shares is not something that we would think is negative,” Randal Quarles, undersecretary for domestic finance, told the Senate Banking Committee at a hearing on hedge funds. “The increased attention on the part of hedge funds to activities of management in an attempt to influence those activities to increase shareholder value … is a positive.” Quarles added that the Treasury Department has not conducted an in-depth study of the topic. But he said that based on anecdotal evidence, the increased pressure some hedge fund managers put on corporations must have a “benefit” overall.

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