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Corporate governance

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Full-Text Articles in Securities Law

Startup Governance, Elizabeth Pollman Jan 2020

Startup Governance, Elizabeth Pollman

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Although previously considered rare, over three hundred startups have reached valuations over a billion dollars. Thousands of smaller startups aim to follow in their paths. Despite the enormous social and economic impact of venture-backed startups, their internal governance receives scant scholarly attention. Longstanding theories of corporate ownership and governance do not capture the special features of startups. They can grow large with ownership shared by diverse participants, and they face issues that do not fit the dominant principal-agent paradigm of public corporations or the classic narrative of controlling shareholders in closely held corporations.

This Article offers an original, comprehensive framework ...


The New Titans Of Wall Street: A Theoretical Framework For Passive Investors, Jill E. Fisch, Asaf Hamdani, Steven Davidoff Solomon Jan 2020

The New Titans Of Wall Street: A Theoretical Framework For Passive Investors, Jill E. Fisch, Asaf Hamdani, Steven Davidoff Solomon

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Passive investors — ETFs and index funds — are the most important development in modern day capital markets, dictating trillions of dollars in capital flows and increasingly owning much of corporate America. Neither the business model of passive funds, nor the way that they engage with their portfolio companies, however, is well understood, and misperceptions of both have led some commentators to call for passive investors to be subject to increased regulation and even disenfranchisement. Specifically, this literature takes a narrow view both of the market in which passive investors compete to manage customer funds and of passive investors’ participation in the ...


Crashing The Boards: A Comparative Analysis Of The Boxing Out Of Women On Boards In The United States And Canada, Diana C. Nicholls Mutter Oct 2019

Crashing The Boards: A Comparative Analysis Of The Boxing Out Of Women On Boards In The United States And Canada, Diana C. Nicholls Mutter

The Journal of Business, Entrepreneurship & the Law

This paper will first provide a critical, comparative look at the Canadian and the federal American responses to the under-representation of women on boards of large, publicly traded corporations. There will be a discussion about the competing conceptions which emerge in addressing the regulation of women on boards in the United States and Canada and why each jurisdiction implemented its policy when it did. The conceptions arising out of questions about under-representation of women on boards tend to fall within two categories: business case rationales and normative rationales. Given the competing conceptions of this issue, this paper will attempt to ...


Index Funds And The Future Of Corporate Governance: Theory, Evidence, And Policy, Scott Hirst Sep 2019

Index Funds And The Future Of Corporate Governance: Theory, Evidence, And Policy, Scott Hirst

Faculty Scholarship

Index funds own an increasingly large proportion of American public companies. The stewardship decisions of index fund managers—how they monitor, vote, and engage with their portfolio companies—can be expected to have a profound impact on the governance and performance of public companies and the economy. Understanding index fund stewardship, and how policymaking can improve it, is thus critical for corporate law scholarship. In this Article we contribute to such understanding by providing a comprehensive theoretical, empirical, and policy analysis of index fund stewardship.

We begin by putting forward an agency-costs theory of index fund incentives. Stewardship decisions by ...


Making Sustainability Disclosure Sustainable, Jill E. Fisch Apr 2019

Making Sustainability Disclosure Sustainable, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Sustainability is receiving increasing attention from issuers, investors and regulators. The desire to understand issuer sustainability practices and their relationship to economic performance has resulted in a proliferation of sustainability disclosure regimes and standards. The range of approaches to disclosure, however, limit the comparability and reliability of the information disclosed. The Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) has solicited comment on whether to require expanded sustainability disclosures in issuer’s periodic financial reporting, and investors have communicated broad-based support for such expanded disclosures, but, to date, the SEC has not required general sustainability disclosure.

This Article argues that claims about the relationship ...


Disclosure's Purpose, Hillary A. Sale Apr 2019

Disclosure's Purpose, Hillary A. Sale

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The United States securities regulatory infrastructure requires disclosure of a wide array of information both by and about covered companies. The basic purpose of the disclosures is to level the playing field – for investors, for issuers, and for the public. Although investor protection is the disclosure goal often touted, this article develops the purposes of disclosure extending beyond investors to issuers and the public. Indeed, the disclosure system is designed to level the playing field for issuers— addressing confidentiality concerns, for example. In addition, the system helps to promote confidence in the markets, which, in turn, enables growth and innovation ...


The Problem Of Sunsets, Jill E. Fisch, Steven Davidoff Solomon Jan 2019

The Problem Of Sunsets, Jill E. Fisch, Steven Davidoff Solomon

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

An increasing percentage of corporations are going public with dual class stock in which the shares owned by the founders or other corporate insiders have greater voting rights than the shares sold to public investors. Some commentators have criticized the dual class structure as unfair to public investors by reducing the accountability of insiders; others have defended the value of dual class in encouraging innovation by providing founders with insulation from market pressure that enables them to pursue their idiosyncratic vision.

The debate over whether dual class structures increase or decrease corporate value is, to date, unresolved. Empirical studies have ...


Revolving Elites: The Unexplored Risk Of Capturing The Sec, James D. Cox, Randall S. Thomas Jan 2019

Revolving Elites: The Unexplored Risk Of Capturing The Sec, James D. Cox, Randall S. Thomas

Faculty Scholarship

Fears have abounded for years that the sweet spot for capture of regulatory agencies is the "revolving door" whereby civil servants migrate from their roles as regulators to private industry. Recent scholarship on this topic has examined whether America's watchdog for securities markets, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), is hobbled by the long-standing practices of its enforcement staff exiting their jobs at the Commission and migrating to lucrative private sector employment where they represent those they once regulated. The research to date has been inconclusive on whether staff revolving door practices have weakened the SEC' s verve. In ...


Reconstructing The Corporation: A Mutual-Control Model Of Corporate Governance, Grant M. Hayden, Matthew T. Bodie Jan 2019

Reconstructing The Corporation: A Mutual-Control Model Of Corporate Governance, Grant M. Hayden, Matthew T. Bodie

All Faculty Scholarship

The consensus around shareholder primacy is crumbling. Investors, long assumed to be uncomplicated profit-maximizers, are looking for ways to express a wider range of values in allocating their funds. Workers are agitating for greater voice at their workplaces. And prominent legislators have recently proposed corporate law reforms that would put a sizable number of employee representatives on the boards of directors of large public companies. These rumblings of public discontent are echoed in recent corporate law scholarship, which has cataloged the costs of shareholder control, touted the advantages of nonvoting stock, and questioned whether activist holders of various stripes are ...


Are Passive Index Funds Active Owners? Corporate Governance Consequences Of Passive Investing, Giovanni Strampelli Dec 2018

Are Passive Index Funds Active Owners? Corporate Governance Consequences Of Passive Investing, Giovanni Strampelli

San Diego Law Review

The exponential rise of mutual funds designed to track stock indices has been one of the drivers behind the re-concentration of ownership of listed companies in the United States. Because of the high concentration of the passive index funds industry, the three leading passive fund managers—BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street—make up an increasingly important component of the shareholder base of listed companies. In spite of this however, it remains questionable whether they are actually interested in playing an active role in the corporate governance of investee companies. In fact, although passive investors are, by definition, focused on the ...


Do Institutional Owners Monitor? Evidence From Voting On Connected Transaction Proposals In Hong Kong-Listed Companies, Félix E. Mezzanotte, Simon Fung May 2018

Do Institutional Owners Monitor? Evidence From Voting On Connected Transaction Proposals In Hong Kong-Listed Companies, Félix E. Mezzanotte, Simon Fung

Michigan Business & Entrepreneurial Law Review

The conventional view in Hong Kong has been that institutional owners tend to be passive owners and that they do little to monitor the companies’ management. We investigated whether the presence of institutional owners in Hong Kong-listed companies was associated with greater monitoring of management through dissent voting by hand-collecting information for a sample (n= 96) of connected transaction proposals (“CT proposals”) and of their voting outcomes, as announced in the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong during the period from 2012–14. Our study shows that voting approval rates on CT proposals were lower (i.e. greater dissent voting) when ...


Third-Party Institutional Proxy Advisors: Conflicts Of Interest And Roads To Reform, Matthew Fagan Apr 2018

Third-Party Institutional Proxy Advisors: Conflicts Of Interest And Roads To Reform, Matthew Fagan

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

With the rise of institutional activist investors in recent decades—including a purported 495 activist campaigns against U.S. corporations in 2016 alone—the role that third-party institutional proxy advisors play in corporate governance has greatly increased. The United States Office of Government Accountability estimates that clients of the top five proxy advisory firms account for about $41.5 trillion in equity throughout the world. For several years, discussions have developed regarding conflicts of interest faced by proxy advisors. For example, Institutional Shareholder Services, the top proxy advisory firm in the world, frequently provides advice to institutional investors on how ...


Does Shareholder Voting Matter? Evidence From The Takeover Market, Paul Mason, Usha Rodrigues, Mike Stegemoller, Steven Utke Jan 2018

Does Shareholder Voting Matter? Evidence From The Takeover Market, Paul Mason, Usha Rodrigues, Mike Stegemoller, Steven Utke

Scholarly Works

Voting rights are a basic shareholder-protection mechanism. Outside of the core voting requirements state law imposes (election of directors and votes on fundamental changes), federal law grants shareholders additional voting rights. But these rights introduce concomitant costs into corporate governance. Each grant of a voting right thus invites the question: is the benefit achieved worth the cost the vote imposes?

The question is not merely a theoretical one. Recently the SEC, concerned about Nasdaq’s potential weakening of shareholder voting protections, has lamented that little evidence exists on the value of the shareholder vote. This Article provides that evidence. It ...


Corporate Short-Termism And Intertemporal Choice, Robert J. Rhee Jan 2018

Corporate Short-Termism And Intertemporal Choice, Robert J. Rhee

Washington University Law Review

This paper presents an intertemporal model of short-termism. Critics have portrayed short-termism in broad brushstrokes as the bane of corporate governance. But short-termism does not have a self-evident, efficiency-based normative value. A simple application of a well-accepted asset valuation theory shows that short-termism is not per se inefficient. If profitable enough, a short-term strategy would be better than a long-term strategy. This intuition is a mathematical and financial fact. The model presented here is tested in a case study of Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. v. Airgas, Inc., a prominent and legally significant Delaware hostile takeover battle. Short-termism was a ...


Piling On? An Empirical Study Of Parallel Derivative Suits, Stephen J. Choi, Jessica Erickson, Adam C. Pritchard Nov 2017

Piling On? An Empirical Study Of Parallel Derivative Suits, Stephen J. Choi, Jessica Erickson, Adam C. Pritchard

Articles

Using a sample of all companies named as defendants in securities class actions between July 1, 2005 and December 31, 2008, we study parallel suits relying on state corporate law arising out of the same allegations as the securities class actions. We test several ways that parallel suits may add value to a securities class action. Most parallel suits target cases involving obvious indicia of wrongdoing. Moreover, we find that although a modest percentage of parallel suits are filed first, over 80 percent are filed after a securities class action (termed “follow-on” parallel suits). We find that parallel suits and ...


Is Say On Pay All About Pay? The Impact Of Firm Performance, Jill E. Fisch, Darius Palia, Steven Davidoff Solomon Oct 2017

Is Say On Pay All About Pay? The Impact Of Firm Performance, Jill E. Fisch, Darius Palia, Steven Davidoff Solomon

Steven M. Davidoff Solomon

The Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 mandated a number of regulatory reforms including a requirement that large U.S. public companies provide their shareholders with the opportunity to cast a non-binding vote on executive compensation. The “say on pay” vote was designed to rein in excessive levels of executive compensation and to encourage boards to adopt compensation structures that tie executive pay more closely to performance. Although the literature is mixed, many studies question whether the statute has had the desired effect. Shareholders at most companies overwhelmingly approve the compensation packages, and pay levels continue to be high. Although a lack ...


Finance And Growth: The Legal And Regulatory Implications Of The Role Of The Public Equity Market In The United States, Ezra Wasserman Mitchell Apr 2017

Finance And Growth: The Legal And Regulatory Implications Of The Role Of The Public Equity Market In The United States, Ezra Wasserman Mitchell

Michigan Business & Entrepreneurial Law Review

The important study of the relationship between finance and economic growth has exploded over the past two decades. One of the most significant open questions is the role of the public equity market in stimulating growth and the channels it follows if it does. This paper examines that question from an economic, legal, and historical perspective, especially with regard to its regulatory and corporate governance implications. The US market is my focus.

In contrast to most studies, I follow both economic history and the actual flow of funds in addition to empirics and theory to conclude that the public equity ...


Who Bleeds When The Wolves Bite? A Flesh-And-Blood Perspective On Hedge Fund Activism And Our Strange Corporate Governance System, Leo E. Strine Jr. Apr 2017

Who Bleeds When The Wolves Bite? A Flesh-And-Blood Perspective On Hedge Fund Activism And Our Strange Corporate Governance System, Leo E. Strine Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This paper examines the effects of hedge fund activism and so-called wolf pack activity on the ordinary human beings—the human investors—who fund our capital markets but who, as indirect of owners of corporate equity, have only limited direct power to ensure that the capital they contribute is deployed to serve their welfare and in turn the broader social good.

Most human investors in fact depend much more on their labor than on their equity for their wealth and therefore care deeply about whether our corporate governance system creates incentives for corporations to create and sustain jobs for them ...


Rethinking Corporate Governance For A Bondholder Financed, Systemically Risky World, Steven L. Schwarcz Jan 2017

Rethinking Corporate Governance For A Bondholder Financed, Systemically Risky World, Steven L. Schwarcz

Faculty Scholarship

This Article makes two arguments that, combined, demonstrate an important synergy: first, including bondholders in corporate governance could help to reduce systemic risk because bondholders are more risk averse than shareholders; second, corporate governance should include bondholders because bonds now dwarf equity as a source of corporate financing and bond prices are increasingly tied to firm performance.


Regulatory Competition And The Market For Corporate Law, Ofer Eldar, Lorenzo Magnolfi Jan 2017

Regulatory Competition And The Market For Corporate Law, Ofer Eldar, Lorenzo Magnolfi

Faculty Scholarship

This article develops an empirical model of firms’ choice of corporate laws under inertia. Delaware dominates the incorporation market, though recently Nevada, a state whose laws are highly protective of managers, has acquired a sizable market share. Using a novel database of incorporation decisions from 1995- 2013, we show that most firms dislike protectionist laws, such as anti-takeover statutes and liability protections for officers, and that Nevada’s rise is due to the preferences of small firms.Our estimates indicate that despite inertia, Delaware would lose significant market share and revenues if it adopted protectionist laws. Our findings support the ...


Frozen Charters, Scott Hirst Jan 2017

Frozen Charters, Scott Hirst

Faculty Scholarship

In 2012, the New York Stock Exchange changed its policies to prevent brokers voting shares on corporate governance proposals where they had not received instructions from beneficial owners. Although the change was intended to protect investors and improve corporate governance, it has had the opposite effect: a significant number of U.S. public companies are no longer able to amend important parts of their corporate charters, despite the support of their boards of directors and overwhelming majorities of shareholders. Their charters are frozen.

This paper provides the first empirical and policy analysis of the broker voting change and its significant ...


Standing Voting Instructions: Empowering The Excluded Retail Investor, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2017

Standing Voting Instructions: Empowering The Excluded Retail Investor, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Despite the increasing importance of shareholder voting, regulators have paid little attention to the rights of retail investors who own approximately 30% of publicly traded companies but who vote less than 30% of their shares. A substantial factor contributing to this low turnout is the antiquated mechanism by which retail investors vote. The federal proxy voting rules place primary responsibility for facilitating retail voting in the hands of custodial brokers who have limited incentives to develop workable procedures, and current regulatory restrictions impede market-based innovation that incorporate technological innovations.

One of the most promising such innovations is standing voting instructions ...


Commitment And Entrenchment In Corporate Governance, K.J. Martijn Cremers, Saura Masconale, Simone M. Sepe Jun 2016

Commitment And Entrenchment In Corporate Governance, K.J. Martijn Cremers, Saura Masconale, Simone M. Sepe

Northwestern University Law Review

Over the past twenty years, a growing number of empirical studies have provided evidence that governance arrangements protecting incumbents from removal promote managerial entrenchment, reducing firm value. As a result of these studies, “good” corporate governance is widely understood today as being about stronger shareholder rights.

This Article rebuts this view, presenting new empirical evidence that challenges the results of prior studies and developing a novel theoretical account of what really matters in corporate governance. Employing a unique dataset that spans from 1978 to 2008, we document that protective arrangements that require shareholder approval—such as staggered boards and supermajority ...


The Role Of Comparative Law In Shaping Corporate Statutory Reforms, Marco Ventoruzzo Mar 2016

The Role Of Comparative Law In Shaping Corporate Statutory Reforms, Marco Ventoruzzo

Marco Ventoruzzo

This Essay discusses how comparative law played and plays a role in the statutory development of corporate laws. The influence of laws of other systems on the development of statutory law is common, explicit, and represents a tradition that accompanied legal reforms since the very beginning of the development of legislation. Focusing on modern corporate law, I argue (but the argument could be extended to many other legal fields) that it is necessary to distinguish two basic ways in which comparative law influences legal reforms in one particular jurisdiction. The first one is through regulatory competition among different systems. In ...


Issuing New Shares And Preemptive Rights: A Comparative Analysis, Marco Ventoruzzo Mar 2016

Issuing New Shares And Preemptive Rights: A Comparative Analysis, Marco Ventoruzzo

Marco Ventoruzzo

The question of whether the corporate law of Europe and America are converging is still largely unanswered. One fundamental area in which the two systems diverge concerns how they regulate the issuing of new shares, in particular preemptive rights, a problem rarely addressed by comparative corporate law scholars. This essay fills that gap by examining the major comparative differences between the approaches followed on the two sides of the Atlantic, and offers some possible explanations for this divergence.


Open Sesame: The Myth Of Alibaba's Extreme Corporate Governance And Control, Yu-Hsin Lin, Thomas Mehaffy Jan 2016

Open Sesame: The Myth Of Alibaba's Extreme Corporate Governance And Control, Yu-Hsin Lin, Thomas Mehaffy

Brooklyn Journal of Corporate, Financial & Commercial Law

In September 2014, Alibaba Group Holding Limited (Alibaba) successfully launched a $25 billion initial public offering (IPO), the largest IPO ever, on New York Stock Exchange. Alibaba’s IPO success witnessed a wave among Chinese Internet companies to raise capital in U.S capital markets. A significant number of these companies have employed a novel, but poorly understood corporate ownership and control mechanism—the variable interest entity (VIE) structure and/or the disproportional control structure. The VIE structure was created in response to the Chinese restriction on foreign investments; however, it carries the risk of being declared illegal under Chinese ...


Quieting The Sharholders' Voice: Empirical Evidence Of Pervasive Bundling In Proxy Solicitations, James D. Cox, Fabrizio Ferri, Colleen Honigsberg, Randall S. Thomas Jan 2016

Quieting The Sharholders' Voice: Empirical Evidence Of Pervasive Bundling In Proxy Solicitations, James D. Cox, Fabrizio Ferri, Colleen Honigsberg, Randall S. Thomas

Faculty Scholarship

The integrity of shareholder voting is critical to the legitimacy of corporate law. One threat to this process is proxy “bundling,” or the joinder of more than one separate item into a single proxy proposal. Bundling deprives shareholders of the right to convey their views on each separate matter being put to a vote and forces them to either reject the entire proposal or approve items they might not otherwise want implemented.

In this Paper, we provide the first comprehensive evaluation of the anti-bundling rules adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) in 1992. While we find that the ...


Lawyers And Fools: Lawyer-Directors In Public Corporations, Lubomir P. Litov, Simone M. Sepe, Charles K. Whitehead Oct 2015

Lawyers And Fools: Lawyer-Directors In Public Corporations, Lubomir P. Litov, Simone M. Sepe, Charles K. Whitehead

Lubomir P. Litov

The accepted wisdom—that a lawyer who becomes a corporate director has a fool for a client—is outdated. The benefits of lawyer-directors in today’s world significantly outweigh the costs. Beyond monitoring, they help manage litigation and regulation, as well as structure compensation to align CEO and shareholder interests. The results have been an average 9.5% increase in firm value and an almost doubling in the percentage of public companies with lawyer-directors. This Article is the first to analyze the rise of lawyer-directors. It makes a variety of other empirical contributions, each of which is statistically significant and ...


Four Pillars To Build A New Corporate Law Federalism: Crowd Funding Exchanges, A Codified Internal Affairs Doctrine, City-Based Incorporation, And An Arbitrated Corporate Code, J.W. Verret Sep 2015

Four Pillars To Build A New Corporate Law Federalism: Crowd Funding Exchanges, A Codified Internal Affairs Doctrine, City-Based Incorporation, And An Arbitrated Corporate Code, J.W. Verret

John W Verret

This article examines the event window opened by the pending creation of new crowdfunding platforms, a new means of creating publicly traded equity for smaller, early stage firms than have ever been permitted by the Securities and Exchange Commission to access the public securities markets. That event window could support a completely new paradigm for the development of corporation law and completely upend existing wisdom about interstate competition to develop corporate governance. This article considers the economics of crowdfunding precursors which share some of the attributes of equity crowdfunding, and also considers the expected attributes of equity crowdfunding, to demonstrate ...


E-Commerce, Cyber, And Electronic Payment System Risks: Lessons From Paypal, Lawrence J. Trautman Aug 2015

E-Commerce, Cyber, And Electronic Payment System Risks: Lessons From Paypal, Lawrence J. Trautman

Lawrence J. Trautman Sr.

By now, almost without exception, every business has an internet presence, and is likely engaged in e-commerce. What are the major risks perceived by those engaged in e-commerce and electronic payment systems? What potential risks, if they become reality, may cause substantial increases in operating costs or threaten the very survival of the enterprise? This article utilizes the relevant annual report disclosures from eBay (parent of PayPal), along with other eBay and PayPal documents, as a potentially powerful teaching device. Most of the descriptive language to follow is excerpted directly from eBay’s regulatory filings. My additions include weaving these ...