This chapter continues our examination of the corporate law and governance implications of the fundamental shift in ownership structure of U.S. public corporations from the Berle-Means pattern of widely distributed shareholders to one of Agency Capitalism ? the re-concentration of ownership in intermediary institutional investors as record holders for their beneficial owners.
A Berle-Means ownership distribution provided the foundation for the agency cost orientation of modern corporate law and governance ? the goal was to bridge the gap between the interests of managers and shareholders that dispersed shareholders could not do for themselves. The equity intermediation of the last 30 years gives us Agency Capitalism, characterized by sophisticated but reticent institutional shareholders who require market actors to invoke their sophistication. We examine here three implications of this shift in ownership distribution. The first addresses a proposal to
turn back the clock in the regulation of ownership disclosure under the Williams Act to a time when shareholders were small and dispersed rather than large and concentrated as they are today. The next two share a common theme: that the allocation of responsibility between directors, shareholders and courts can no longer be premised on a paternalism grounded in an anachronistic belief concerning the distribution and sophistication of shareholders. We show that the Chancery Court has recognized that Agency Capitalism counsels different rules concerning the roles of shareholders and the court in policing freezeouts. And we argue that the Supreme Court will come to realize what the Chancery Court has recognized for some time ? that the doctrine of substantive coercion as a basis for takeover defence must give way as Delaware corporate law adapts to the very different shareholder distribution the capital market has now given us.
How do active managers engage with portfolio firms? And, what role does monitoring and engagement play in their trading decisions? We use proprietary data from a large UK active asset manager with a long-standing commitment to stewardship to...Read more
This paper studies how managers react to shareholder empowerment vis-à-vis governance provisions. We show that a staggered legislative change that increases noncompliance costs in the implementation of shareholder-initiated majority voting...Read more
Shareholder activism by hedge funds has taken hold in Germany in spite of large ownership concentration. This essay uses the example of Stada Arzneimittel AG to highlight features of activism, German style. It goes on to discuss the legal issues...Read more
Index funds and indexed ETFs managed by the “Big Three” – BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street – have grown to be the largest investors in the capital markets and have become the presumptive “deciders” of corporate law controversies. With this...Read more