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Shareholder Voting Power and Corporate Governance: A Study of Large British Companies

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  • Dennis Leech

Abstract

The pattern of ownership and control of British industry is unusual compared with most other countries in that ownership is relatively dispersed. Majority ownership by a single shareholder is unusual. It is not uncommon for the largest shareholding to be under 20 percent and in many cases much less than that. A similar pattern occurs in the USA. The question of voting power is the focus of this paper. Conventional analyses of control through voting use a 20% rule to identify a controlling bloc, either a single individual or institutional shareholder or a group voting together. Theoretical voting power of minority shareholding blocs is studied using a voting power index. This is applied to a model of ownership control described in Leech (1987) based on the definition of control used by Berle and Means (1932). The results give support for use of a 20 percent rule in many cases but not all. Also they support the idea that many companies are potentially controlled by a bloc of a few large shareholders working in concert, in almost all cases a voting bloc of the top six shareholdings combined could have working control whether or not it commanded a majority of the shares.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Nordic Journal of Political Economy in its journal Nordic Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 27 (2001)
Issue (Month): ()
Pages: 33-54

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Handle: RePEc:noj:journl:v:27:y:2001:p:33-54

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  1. Leech, Dennis, 1985. "The relationshiop between Shareholding Concentration and Shareholder Voting Power in British Companies : A study of the Application of Power Indices for Simple Games," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 267, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  2. Leech, D., 2001. "Fair Reweighting of the Votes in the EU Council of Ministers and the Choice of Majority Requirement for Qualified Majority Voting during Successive Enlargements," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 587, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  3. Julian Franks & Colin Mayer, 1997. "Corporate Ownership And Control In The U.K., Germany, And France," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 9(4), pages 30-45.
  4. Leech, D., 2000. "Members' Voting Power in the Governance of the International Monetary Fund," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 583, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  5. Leech, D. & Leahy, J., 1989. "Ownership Structure, Control Type Classifications And The Performance Of Large British Companies," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 345, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  6. Leech, D., 1998. "Computing Power Indices for Large Voting Games: A New Algorithm," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 510, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  7. Leech, D., 2000. "An Empirical Comparison of the Performance of Classical Power Indices," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 563, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  8. Cubbin, John S & Leech, Dennis, 1983. "The Effect of Shareholding Dispersion on the Degree of Control in British Companies: Theory and Measurement," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 93(37), pages 351-69, June.
  9. Leech, Dennis, 1987. "Ownership Concentration and the Theory of the Firm: A Simple-Game-Theoretic Approach," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(3), pages 225-40, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Angelo Baglioni, 2008. "Shareholders' agreements and voting power. Evidence from Italian listed firms," DISCE - Quaderni dell'Istituto di Economia e Finanza ief0081, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
  2. Pietro Marchetti & Valeria Stefanelli, 2009. "Does the compensation level of outside director depend on its personal profile? Some evidence from UK," Journal of Management and Governance, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 325-354, November.

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