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What We Do not Know about the Ownership Structure of the Largest U.S. Companies?


  • Kokoreva, Maria S.

    () (Corporate Finance Center, National Research University Higher School of Economics)

  • Stepanova, Anastasia N.

    () (Corporate Finance Center, National Research University Higher School of Economics)

  • Karnoukhova, Elena V.

    () (Corporate Finance Center, National Research University Higher School of Economics)


The recent restructuring of the economy has led to the fact that the leaders of information technology sector — Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon — became the largest companies in the world, replacing the banking and oil and gas sectors. The emergence of a large number of technology start-ups resulted in the increase of the entrepreneurial ownership. Business founders tend to issue dual class stocks to retain control over key corporate decisions. The capital structure and the Board of Directors structure alter along with changes in the ownership structure. In many large companies, more than 90% of directors have become independent. At the same time, the diversification of the board of directors is improving by the active involvement of women in decisionmaking processes. Zero debt popularity reflect the changes in the attitude to risk. The article examines the main trends in the ownership structure of the largest US companies. The research consolidates the results of theoretical and empirical research in the field of corporate governance, capital structure and ownership structure in the developed markets. We provide the analysis of the dispersed ownership as the element of AngloSaxon corporate governance model based on historical trends in the ownership structure of companies in the US. The appearance of new sectors, the rapid development of entrepreneurial ownership, the return of the popularity of dual class shares, the fashion for gender diversification in the board of directors and the phenomenon of zero debt level are illustrated by case studies of actual corporations and analytical reports. We discuss all of the identified trends in terms of risk. In order to hedge the higher business risks of new sectors the top management and investors reduce debt, invite women to the board of directors and increase the degree of independence of the board of directors.

Suggested Citation

  • Kokoreva, Maria S. & Stepanova, Anastasia N. & Karnoukhova, Elena V., 2016. "What We Do not Know about the Ownership Structure of the Largest U.S. Companies?," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 6, pages 36-59, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:rnp:ecopol:ep1662

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    ownership structure; capital structure; risk level; the Board of Directors; ownership concentration;

    JEL classification:

    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance


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