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Full-Text Articles in Law

Mutual Fund Stewardship And The Empty Voting Problem, Jill E. Fisch Oct 2021

Mutual Fund Stewardship And The Empty Voting Problem, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

When Roberta Karmel wrote the articles that are the subject of this symposium, she was skeptical of both the potential value of shareholder voting and the emerging involvement of institutional investors in corporate governance. In the ensuing years, both the increased role and engagement of institutional investors and the heightened importance of shareholder voting offer new reasons to take Professor Karmel’s concerns seriously. Institutional investors have taken on a broader range of issues ranging from diversity and political spending to climate change and human capital management, and their ability to influence corporate policy on these issues has become more ...


Shareholder Primacy And The Moral Obligation Of Directors, Mark J. Loewenstein, Jay Geyer Jan 2021

Shareholder Primacy And The Moral Obligation Of Directors, Mark J. Loewenstein, Jay Geyer

Articles

One of the most written-about and important topics in corporate law is the fiduciary obligations of corporate directors. Increasingly, critics of American capitalism have urged that corporations, and implicitly, corporate directors, act in a more socially responsible fashion and thus eschew the notion that shareholder primacy is the exclusive guide to a director’s fiduciary duty. Under this view, directors must consider the effect of their actions on “stakeholders” other than shareholders and be guided by morality—doing the right thing—when making business judgments.

When directors move away from shareholder primacy, however, decision-making becomes more difficult and problematic. This ...


A Response To Calls For Sec-Mandated Esg Disclosure, Amanda M. Rose Jan 2021

A Response To Calls For Sec-Mandated Esg Disclosure, Amanda M. Rose

Washington University Law Review

This Article responds to recent proposals calling for the SEC to adopt a mandatory ESG-disclosure framework. It illustrates how the breadth and vagueness of these proposals obscures the important—and controversial—policy questions that would need to be addressed before the SEC could move forward on the proposals in a principled way. The questions raised include some of the most contested in the field of corporate and securities law, such as the value of interjurisdictional competition for corporate charters, the right way to conceptualize the purpose of the corporation, the proper allocation of managerial power as between the board and ...


Delaware's Global Competitiveness, William J. Moon Jan 2021

Delaware's Global Competitiveness, William J. Moon

Faculty Scholarship

For about a hundred years, Delaware has been the leading jurisdiction for corporate law in the United States. The state, which deliberately embarked on a mission to build a haven for corporate law in the early twentieth century, now supplies corporate charters to over two thirds of Fortune 500 companies and a growing share of closely held companies. But Delaware’s domestic dominance masks the important and yet underexamined issue of whether Delaware maintains its competitive edge globally.

This Article examines Delaware’s global competitiveness, documenting Delaware’s surprising weakness competing in the emerging international market for corporate charters. It ...


A Revised Monitoring Model Confronts Today's Movement Toward Managerialism, James D. Cox, Randall S. Thomas Jan 2021

A Revised Monitoring Model Confronts Today's Movement Toward Managerialism, James D. Cox, Randall S. Thomas

Faculty Scholarship

There are many lessons to be drawn from the sweep of history. In law, the compelling story repeatedly told is the observable co-movement of law on the one hand, and economic, social, and political changes on the other hand. Aberrations, however, do arise but generally do not persist in the long term. Contemporary corporate law seems to be on the cusp of such an abnormality as legal developments and proposed reforms for corporate law are currently conflicting with the direction in which the host environment is moving. This article identifies a series of contemporary judicial and regulatory corporate governance developments ...


Synthetic Governance, Byung Hyun Anh, Jill E. Fisch, Panos N. Patatoukas, Steven Davidoff Solomon Jan 2021

Synthetic Governance, Byung Hyun Anh, Jill E. Fisch, Panos N. Patatoukas, Steven Davidoff Solomon

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Although securities regulation is distinct from corporate governance, the two fields have considerable substantive overlap. By increasing the transparency and efficiency of the capital markets, securities regulation can also enhance the capacity of those markets to discipline governance decisions. The importance of market discipline is heightened by the increasingly vocal debate over what constitutes “good” corporate governance.

Securities product innovation offers new tools to address this debate. The rise of index-based investing provides a market-based mechanism for selecting among governance options and evaluating their effects. Through the creation of bespoke governance index funds, asset managers can create indexes that correspond ...


Federal Forum Provisions And The Internal Affairs Doctrine, Dhruv Aggarwal, Albert H. Choi, Ofer Eldar Aug 2020

Federal Forum Provisions And The Internal Affairs Doctrine, Dhruv Aggarwal, Albert H. Choi, Ofer Eldar

Articles

A key question at the intersection of state and federal law is whether corpo- rations can use their charters or bylaws to restrict securities litigation to federal court. In December 2018, the Delaware Chancery Court answered this question in the negative in the landmark decision Sciabacucchi v. Salzberg. The court invalidated “federal forum provisions” (“FFPs”) that allow companies to select federal district courts as the exclusive venue for claims brought under the Secur- ities Act of 1933 (“1933 Act”). The decision held that the internal affairs doc- trine, which is the bedrock of U.S. corporate law, does not permit ...


Boards In Information Governance, Faith Stevelman, Sarah C. Haan Jan 2020

Boards In Information Governance, Faith Stevelman, Sarah C. Haan

Scholarly Articles

This Article focuses on the evolving role of boards of directors. It charts the decline of the two leading, twentieth-century conceptual frameworks shaping corporate boards’ roles: agency cost theory, which produced the limited “monitoring board,” and “separate realms” theory, which ceded board responsibility for matters other than profit maximization to government regulation. Hedge fund activism and wild stock market swings have exposed the limits of the board’s role in agency cost theory. The 2020 pandemic, economic crises, investors’ demands for socially responsible stewardship, and corporations’ own political activism have rendered separate realms thinking untenable.

Although much theorizing in corporate ...


Tepoel Lecture: Bond Trustees And The Rising Challenge Of Activist Investors, Steven L. Schwarcz Jan 2020

Tepoel Lecture: Bond Trustees And The Rising Challenge Of Activist Investors, Steven L. Schwarcz

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Delaware's New Competition, William J. Moon Jan 2020

Delaware's New Competition, William J. Moon

Faculty Scholarship

According to the standard account in American corporate law, states compete to supply corporate law to American corporations, with Delaware dominating the market. This “competition” metaphor in turn informs some of the most important policy debates in American corporate law.

This Article complicates the standard account, introducing foreign nations as emerging lawmakers that compete with American states in the increasingly globalized market for corporate law. In recent decades, entrepreneurial foreign nations in offshore islands have used permissive corporate governance rules and specialized business courts to attract publicly traded American corporations. Aided in part by a select group of private sector ...


Shifting Influences On Corporate Governance: Capital Market Completeness And Policy Channeling, Ronald J. Gilson, Curtis J. Milhaupt Jan 2020

Shifting Influences On Corporate Governance: Capital Market Completeness And Policy Channeling, Ronald J. Gilson, Curtis J. Milhaupt

Faculty Scholarship

Corporate governance scholarship is typically portrayed as driven by single factor models, for example, shareholder value maximization, director primacy or team production. These governance models are Copernican; one factor is or should be the center of the corporate governance solar system. In this essay, we argue that, as with binary stars, the shape of the governance system is at any time the result of the interaction of two central influences, which we refer to as capital market completeness and policy channeling. In contrast to single factor models, which reflect a stable normative statement of what should drive corporate governance, in ...


Private Company Lies, Elizabeth Pollman Jan 2020

Private Company Lies, Elizabeth Pollman

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Rule 10b-5’s antifraud catch-all is one of the most consequential pieces of American administrative law and most highly developed areas of judicially-created federal law. Although the rule broadly prohibits securities fraud in both public and private company stock, the vast majority of jurisprudence, and the voluminous academic literature that accompanies it, has developed through a public company lens.

This Article illuminates how the explosive growth of private markets has left huge portions of U.S. capital markets with relatively light securities fraud scrutiny and enforcement. Some of the largest private companies by valuation grow in an environment of extreme ...


Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls: Fiduciary Duties In Venture Capital Backed Startups, Sarath Sanga, Eric L. Talley Jan 2020

Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls: Fiduciary Duties In Venture Capital Backed Startups, Sarath Sanga, Eric L. Talley

Faculty Scholarship

Venture-capital-backed startups are often crucibles of conflict between common and preferred shareholders, particularly around exit decisions. Such conflicts are so common, in fact, that they have catalyzed an emergent judicial precedent – the Trados doctrine – that requires boards to prioritize common shareholders' interest and to treat preferred shareholders as contractual claimants. We evaluate the Trados doctrine using a model of startup governance that interacts capital structure, corporate governance, and liability rules. The nature and degree of inter-shareholder conflict turns not only on the relative rights and options of equity participants, but also on a firm's intrinsic value as well as ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


The Enduring Distinction Between Business Entities And Security Interests, Ofer Eldar, Andrew Verstein Jan 2019

The Enduring Distinction Between Business Entities And Security Interests, Ofer Eldar, Andrew Verstein

Faculty Scholarship

What are business entities for? What are security interests for? The prevailing answer in legal scholarship is that both bodies of law exist to partition assets for the benefit of designated creditors. But if both bodies of law partition assets, then what distinguishes them? In fact, these bodies of law appear to be converging as increasing flexibility irons out any differences. Indeed, many legal products, such as securitization vehicles, insurance products known as captive insurance, and mutual funds, employ entities to create distinct asset pools. Moreover, recent legal innovations, such as “protected cells,” which were created to facilitate such products ...


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 ...


Institutional Investors As Short Sellers?, Peter Molk, Frank Partnoy Jan 2019

Institutional Investors As Short Sellers?, Peter Molk, Frank Partnoy

UF Law Faculty Publications

Short selling has the potential to improve the efficiency and fairness of equity markets. Yet institutional investors face both private and regulatory constraints to short selling. We document these obstacles and consider the potential benefits of removing them. We advocate that institutional investors engage in more short selling as part of overall net-long equity strategies, such as a leveraged passive equity index combined with an actively managed short position of a size comparable to the amount of leverage.


The Corporation Reborn: From Shareholder Primacy To Shared Governance, Grant M. Hayden, Matthew T. Bodie Jan 2019

The Corporation Reborn: From Shareholder Primacy To Shared 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 ...


The New Titans Of Wall Street: A Theoretical Framework For Passive Investors, Jill E. Fisch, Asaf Hamdani, Steven Davidoff Solomon Jan 2019

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 ...


Startup Governance, Elizabeth Pollman Jan 2019

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 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 ...


Board Compliance, John Armour, Brandon L. Garrett, Jeffrey N. Gordon, Geeyoung Min Jan 2019

Board Compliance, John Armour, Brandon L. Garrett, Jeffrey N. Gordon, Geeyoung Min

Faculty Scholarship

What role do corporate boards play in compliance? Compliance programs are internal enforcement programs, whereby firms train, monitor and discipline employees with respect to applicable laws and regulations. Corporate enforcement and compliance failures could not be more high-profile, and have placed boards in the position of responding to systemic problems. Both case law on boards’ fiduciary duties and guidance from prosecutors suggest that the board should have a continuing role in overseeing compliance activity. Yet very little is actually known about the role of boards in compliance. This paper offers the first empirical account of public companies’ engagement with compliance ...


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 ...