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The Balance of Power in Close Corporations


  • Morten Bennedsen

    (Institute of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

  • Daniel Wolfenzon

    (University of Harvard)


We analyze a model of a firm with more than one significant owner (a situation common in close corporations). In particular, we are interested in the optimal ownership structure chosen by the founder of the firm. We show that , by distributing control among several shareholders, the founder forces them to form coalitions to obtain control. This is optimal because a coalition, by grouping the cash flows of its members, internalizes to a larger extent the consequences of its actions, and hence takes more efficient actions than any of its members individually. The model has other implications. We show that having a one-share-one-vote ownership structure can increase efficiency and thereby the value of the firm. In addition, we analyze the optimal number and size of shareholder, or many equal-sized shareholders. We also show that, in firms with several large shareholders, an increase in the number of shareholders reduces efficiency. Finally, we analyze the desirability of restricting trade, and find that it is optimal to do so.

Suggested Citation

  • Morten Bennedsen & Daniel Wolfenzon, 1998. "The Balance of Power in Close Corporations," CIE Discussion Papers 1998-15, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Industrial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuieci:1998-15

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    More about this item


    close corporations; ownership structure and voting;

    JEL classification:

    • G31 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Capital Budgeting; Fixed Investment and Inventory Studies
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G35 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Payout Policy


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