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Corporate Ownership Around the World

  • Rafael La Porta

    (Harvard University)

  • Florencio Lopez-De-Silanes

    (Harvard University)

  • Andrei Shleifer

    (Harvard University)

We use data on ownership structures of large corporations in 27 wealthy economies to identify the ultimate controlling shareholders of these firms. We find that, except in economies with very good shareholder protection, relatively few of these firms are widely held, in contrast to Berle and Means's image of ownership of the modern corporation. Rather, these firms are typically controlled by families or the State. Equity control by financial institutions is far less common. The controlling shareholders typically have power over firms significantly in excess of their cash flow rights, primarily through the use of pyramids and participation in management. Copyright The American Finance Association 1999.

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Article provided by American Finance Association in its journal The Journal of Finance.

Volume (Year): 54 (1999)
Issue (Month): 2 (04)
Pages: 471-517

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Handle: RePEc:bla:jfinan:v:54:y:1999:i:2:p:471-517
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  1. Gorton, Gary & Schmid, Frank A., 2000. "Universal banking and the performance of German firms," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1-2), pages 29-80.
  2. Prowse, Stephen D, 1992. " The Structure of Corporate Ownership in Japan," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(3), pages 1121-40, July.
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  4. Stulz, ReneM., 1988. "Managerial control of voting rights : Financing policies and the market for corporate control," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1-2), pages 25-54, January.
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  6. Colin Mayer & Julian Franks, 2000. "Ownership and Control of German Corporations," Economics Series Working Papers 2001-FE-11, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  7. Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1997. "Legal Determinants of External Finance," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1788, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  8. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1997. " A Survey of Corporate Governance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(2), pages 737-83, June.
  9. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
  10. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1998. "Agency Problems and Dividend Policies Around the World," NBER Working Papers 6594, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Harris, Milton & Raviv, Artur, 1988. "Corporate governance : Voting rights and majority rules," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1-2), pages 203-235, January.
  12. Erik Berglof, 1997. "Reforming corporate governance: redirecting the European agenda," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 12(24), pages 91-123, 04.
  13. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
  14. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1998. "Law and Finance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1113-1155, December.
  15. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1986. "Large Shareholders and Corporate Control," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages 461-88, June.
  16. Holderness, Clifford G. & Sheehan, Dennis P., 1988. "The role of majority shareholders in publicly held corporations : An exploratory analysis," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1-2), pages 317-346, January.
  17. Berglof, Erik & Perotti, Enrico, 1994. "The governance structure of the Japanese financial keiretsu," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 259-284, October.
  18. Sanford J. Grossman & Oliver D. Hart, 1987. "One Share/One Vote and The Market for Corporate Control," Working papers 440, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  19. Kang, Jun-Koo & Shivdasani, Anil, 1995. "Firm performance, corporate governance, and top executive turnover in Japan," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 29-58, May.
  20. Mark J. Roe, 1997. "The Political Roots Of American Corporate Finance," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 9(4), pages 8-22.
  21. Demsetz, Harold, 1983. "The Structure of Ownership and the Theory of the Firm," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 375-90, June.
  22. Mike Burkart & Denis Gromb & Fausto Panunzi, 1998. "Why Higher Takeover Premia Protect Minority Shareholders," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(1), pages 172-204, February.
  23. Demsetz, Harold & Lehn, Kenneth, 1985. "The Structure of Corporate Ownership: Causes and Consequences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1155-77, December.
  24. Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1994. "Politicians and Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 995-1025.
  25. Lucian Arye Bebchuk, 1994. "Efficient and Inefficient Sales of Corporate Control," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 957-993.
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