Ownership Structure and Value of the Largest European Firms: The Importance of Owner Identity
The paper examines the relationship betweenownership structure and value of the largestEuropean firms. Using simultaneous estimationand controlling for nation and industry effectswe find that ownership concentration (measuredby the fraction of ``closely held'' shares) hasa positive effect on firm value (market-to-bookvalue of equity), when the largest owner is afinancial institution or another corporation. If the largest owner is a family or a singleindividual, ownership concentration has noeffect on firm value, and the effect isnegative if the largest owner is a governmentorganisation. Firm value is found to have apositive feedback effect on ownershipconcentration except for governments, whichhold higher stakes in low-value firms. Inother words, owner-identity matters,particularly in a Continental Europeaninstitutional setting where ownershipconcentration is high and minority investorprotection is low. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003
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