Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Should shareholders vote with their hands or feet?

In a contribution in Forum Magazine (Spring 2004), former INSEAD-Dean Antonio Borges makes a number of interesting observations on Corporte G.
- G. is about finances, about the sense of justice and about in whose interests organizations operate.
- Nowadays, companies cannot operate properly without a good level of trust.
- This leads to deep challenges, emotional issues, political interests as well as economic issues and social ones; this is a world of compromises, a world of balance.
- Regulations are needed but not sufficient.
- Proper values must be in place.
- Without strong markets it is very difficult to deliver good G.
- G. is associated to investor protection.
- Key elements are transparency and accountability.
- With good G, trust and access to capital, low cost capital increases.
One remark of Borges on increasing shareholder activism in particular caught my attention:
(...) "shareholders, if they want to intervene more in the G. of their corporations, are not necessarily knowledgeable about those corporations. Shareholders are not necessarily specialists in the industries in which they invest. And the whole point in the capitalistic systems is that you can go in and out". So what do you think: should shareholders be allowed to increasingly vote with their hands or should they stick to voting with their feet?

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob Oellermann (head of research at Coronation Fund Managers) seems to be convinced voting with the feet is best normally:

"When it comes to corporate governance, institutional shareholders have been accused of being asleep at the wheel for too long.

Abuses of corporate power, mismanagement of company strategy and lax application of governance has culminated in a rise in shareholder activism and renewed institutional energy.

In many cases, the headline grabbing episodes on this topic hinge on the votes cast at shareholder meetings. However, as shareholders and guardians of client money, our responsibilities lie far wider than that.

The point of departure in most cases of shareholder discontent is discussions with company management, which allow us to explore management strategies, assess where differences lie and evaluate how firm the different viewpoints might be.

In most cases of strategic direction or tactical decision-making, the principle of "management (not shareholders) are paid and best qualified to run the company" should be applied."
See: http://www.busrep.co.za/index.php?fSectionId=642&fArticleId=2208041

10:23 AM  

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