Markets held relative steady on Wednesday following a status-quo announcement from the Federal Reserve and a fizzle in red-hot tech stocks.

While stocks cooled, investor Bill Ackman stayed hot, at least hot in the sense of his tone to shareholders of Automatic Data Processing Inc. (ADP - Get Report)  following comments from the company's CEO in regards to his ongoing campaign at the company.

In an exclusive interview with TheStreet's Ron Orol, Ackman lashed back against a suggestion that his goals for share-price improvement at ADP can only be achieved quickly by eliminating up to 20,000 jobs.

"This is a scare tactic," Ackman said in his interview with The Street.

ADP CEO Carlos Rodriguez suggested recently that Ackman's goals at ADP can only be achieved quickly by eliminating 15,000 to 20,000 of its 58,000 employees. The comments come as Ackman is waging an intense boardroom battle, seeking to install three dissident directors onto the board of the payroll processor at the company's 2018 annual meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 7.

As Ackman and ADP's battle gets ready to come to a head, another battle may be brewing. After a dismal week at Mattel Inc. (MAT - Get Report)  , which has investors contemplating its value in a sale, a frequent activist investor is now the toy company's second-biggest shareholder.

Southeastern Asset Management Inc. has reported a 10.25% stake in Mattel and though its stake is currently passive (it was disclosed in a 13G filing not a 13D), passive stakes are sometimes converted into activist 13D stakes.

Memphis-based Southeastern's recent investments include United Technologies Corp. (UTX - Get Report)  , set to buy airplane parts maker Rockwell Collins Inc. (COL)  for $30 billion including debt after pressure from fellow activist Dan Loeb, and Deltic Timber Corp. (DEL)  , which Southeastern pressured to pursue a full range of strategic alternatives.

And in regards to the New York terrorist attack on Tuesday, a number of companies may find themselves under increased scrutiny. Among them, Uber Technologies Inc., which employed the motorist who killed eight and wounded more than a dozen. The ride-sharing company has drawn criticism for its screening of drivers and for its corporate culture and this certainly won't help matters, especially as news continues to trickle out that a major investment from Japan's Softbank into Uber may be in jeopardy due to ties to former CEO Travis Kalanick.

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Photo of the day: A very sweet business

Kids across the country are likely munching away at the spoils of their trick-or-treating escapades. Somewhere in that pillowcase filled with goodies is likely any number of products made by Tootsie Roll Industries Inc. (TR - Get Report) . Its confectionary treats aside, Tootsie Roll Industries may be attracting the interest of potential buyers, or even an activist investor, if the company cannot hammer out a succession plan for its 85-year-old CEO, Ellen Gordon, TheStreet's sister publication The Deal reported. Last month, short-seller Spruce Point Capital Management LLC released a 63-page report blasting Tootsie Roll and its management. Among the criticisms were a lack of candor with shareholders, asbestos problems, poor corporate governance and declining brands and shelf space. Tootsie Roll was founded in 1896 in New York City and has managed to stay in the minds of consumers with colorful and creative ad campaigns. Above is an ad from 1961.

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