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How Are U.S. Family Firms Controlled?

  • Belén Villalonga
  • Raphael Amit
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    In large U.S. corporations, founding families are the only blockholders whose control rights on average exceed their cash-flow rights. We analyze how they achieve this wedge, and at what cost. Indirect ownership through trusts, foundations, limited partnerships, and other corporations is prevalent but rarely creates a wedge (a pyramid). The primary sources of the wedge are dual-class stock, disproportionate board representation, and voting agreements. Each control-enhancing mechanism has a different impact on value. Our findings suggest that the potential agency conflict between large shareholders and public shareholders in the United States is as relevant as elsewhere in the world. The Author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Society for Financial Studies. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail:, Oxford University Press.

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    Article provided by Society for Financial Studies in its journal The Review of Financial Studies.

    Volume (Year): 22 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 8 (August)
    Pages: 3047-3091

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    Handle: RePEc:oup:rfinst:v:22:y:2009:i:8:p:3047-3091
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