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Staggered Boards and the Wealth of Shareholders: Evidence from Two Natural Experiments

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  • Lucian A. Bebchuk
  • Alma Cohen
  • Charles C.Y. Wang

Abstract

While staggered boards have been documented to be negatively correlated with firm valuation, such association might be due to staggered boards either bringing about lower firm value or merely reflecting the tendency of low-value firms to have staggered boards. In this paper, we use two natural experiments to shed light on the causality question. In particular, we focus on two recent court rulings, separated by several weeks, that affected in opposite directions the antitakeover force of staggered boards: (i) a ruling by the Delaware Chancery Court approving the legality of shareholder-adopted bylaws that weaken the antitakeover force of a staggered board by moving the company’s annual meeting up from later parts of the calendar year to January, and (ii) the subsequent decision by the Delaware Supreme Court to overturn the Chancery Court ruling and invalidate such bylaws. We find evidence consistent with the hypothesis that the Chancery Court ruling increased the value of affected companies – namely, companies with a staggered board and an annual meeting in later parts of the calendar year – and that the Supreme Court ruling produced a reduction in the affected companies’ value. The identified effects were most pronounced for firms for which control contests are especially relevant due to relative underperformance, small firm size, high asset pledgibility, or high takeover intensity in their industry. Our findings have implications for the long-standing debate on staggered boards. The findings are consistent with the market’s viewing staggered boards as bringing about a reduction in firm value. Our findings are thus consistent with leading institutional investors’ policies in favor of board de-staggering, and with the view that the ongoing process of board de-staggering in public firms can be expected to enhance shareholder value.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17127.

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Date of creation: Jun 2011
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17127

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  1. Bates, Thomas W. & Becher, David A. & Lemmon, Michael L., 2008. "Board classification and managerial entrenchment: Evidence from the market for corporate control," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(3), pages 656-677, March.
  2. Sanjeev Bhojraj & Charles M. C. Lee & Derek K. Oler, 2003. "What's My Line? A Comparison of Industry Classification Schemes for Capital Market Research," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(5), pages 745-774, December.
  3. Bo Becker & Daniel Bergstresser & Guhan Subramanian, 2013. "Does Shareholder Proxy Access Improve Firm Value? Evidence from the Business Roundtable’s Challenge," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56(1), pages 127 - 160.
  4. Lucian Bebchuk & Alma Cohen & Allen Ferrell, 2009. "What Matters in Corporate Governance?," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(2), pages 783-827, February.
  5. Lucian Bebchuk & Alma Cohen, 2004. "The Costs of Entrenched Boards," NBER Working Papers 10587, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Vidhi Chhaochharia & Yaniv Grinstein, 2007. "Corporate Governance and Firm Value: The Impact of the 2002 Governance Rules," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(4), pages 1789-1825, 08.
  7. Karpoff, Jonathan M. & Malatesta, Paul H., 1989. "The wealth effects of second-generation state takeover legislation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 291-322, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Cohen, Alma & Wang, Charles C.Y., 2013. "How do staggered boards affect shareholder value? Evidence from a natural experiment," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(3), pages 627-641.
  2. Chen, Dong, 2012. "Classified boards, the cost of debt, and firm performance," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 3346-3365.

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