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Corporate Ownership Around the World

  • Rafael La Porta
  • Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes
  • Andrei Shleifer

We present data on ownership structures of large corporations in 27 wealthy economies, making an effort to identify 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 the Berle and Means image of ownership of the modern corporation. Rather, these firms are typically controlled by families or the State. Equity control by financial institutions or other widely-held corporations is less common. The controlling shareholders typically have the power over firms significantly in excess of their cash flow rights, primarily through the use of pyramids and participation in management. The results suggest that the principal agency problem in large corporations around the world is that of restricting expropriation of minority shareholders by the controlling shareholders, rather than that of restricting empire building by professional managers unaccountable to shareholders.

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Paper provided by Harvard - Institute of Economic Research in its series Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers with number 1840.

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Date of creation: 1998
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Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:1840
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  1. La Porta, Rafael & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1997. " Legal Determinants of External Finance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(3), pages 1131-50, July.
  2. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W., 1986. "Large Shareholders and Corporate Control," Scholarly Articles 3606237, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. 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.
  4. Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1996. "A Survey of Corporate Governance," NBER Working Papers 5554, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Oliver Hart & Sanford Grossman, 1985. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Working papers 372, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  6. 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.
  7. Erik Berglof, 1997. "Reforming corporate governance: redirecting the European agenda," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 12(24), pages 91-123, 04.
  8. 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.
  9. Grossman, Sanford J. & Hart, Oliver D., 1988. "One share-one vote and the market for corporate control," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1-2), pages 175-202, January.
  10. Franks, Julian R & Mayer, Colin, 2001. "Ownership and Control of German Corporations," CEPR Discussion Papers 2898, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Lucian Arye Bebchuk, 1994. "Efficient and Inefficient Sales of Corporate Control," NBER Working Papers 4788, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W., 1998. "Law and Finance," Scholarly Articles 3451310, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  15. 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.
  16. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 2000. "Agency Problems and Dividend Policies around the World," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(1), pages 1-33, 02.
  17. 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.
  18. Mark J. Roe, 1997. "The Political Roots Of American Corporate Finance," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 9(4), pages 8-22.
  19. 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.
  20. Prowse, Stephen D, 1992. " The Structure of Corporate Ownership in Japan," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(3), pages 1121-40, July.
  21. 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.
  22. Barclay, Michael J. & Holderness, Clifford G., 1989. "Private benefits from control of public corporations," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 371-395, December.
  23. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1994. "Politicians and Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 995-1025, November.
  24. 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.
  25. Morck, Randall & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W., 1988. "Management ownership and market valuation : An empirical analysis," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1-2), pages 293-315, January.
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