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Spending Less Time with the Family: The Decline of Family Ownership in the UK

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  • Julian Franks
  • Colin Mayer
  • Stefano Rossi

Abstract

Family ownership was rapidly diluted in the twentieth century in Britain. The main cause was equity issued in the process of making acquisitions. In the first half of the century, it occurred in the absence of minority investor protection and relied on directors of target firms protecting the interests of shareholders. Families were able to retain control by occupying a disproportionate number of seats on the boards of firms. However, in the absence of large stakes, the rise of hostile takeovers and institutional shareholders made it increasingly difficult for families to maintain control without challenge. Potential targets attempted to protect themselves through dual class shares and strategic share blocks but these were dismantled in response to opposition by institutional shareholders and the London Stock Exchange. The result was a regulated market in corporate control and a capital market that looked very different from its European counterparts. Thus, while acquisitions facilitated the growth of family controlled firms in the first half of the century, they also diluted their ownership and ultimately their control in the second half.

Suggested Citation

  • Julian Franks & Colin Mayer & Stefano Rossi, 2004. "Spending Less Time with the Family: The Decline of Family Ownership in the UK," NBER Working Papers 10628, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10628 Note: CF
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, 2000. "The Great Reversals: The Politics of Financial Development in the 20th Century," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 265, OECD Publishing.
    2. Franks, Julian & Mayer, Colin, 1996. "Hostile takeovers and the correction of managerial failure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 163-181, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Naomi Lamoreaux & Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, 2004. "Corporate Governance and the Plight of Minority Shareholders in the United States Before the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 10900, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Franks, Julian & Mayer, Colin & Wagner, Hannes F., 2005. "The Origins of the German Corporation – Finance, Ownership and Control," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 65, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    3. Yoser Gadhoum, 2006. "Power of Ultimate Controlling Owners: A Survey of Canadian Landscape," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 10(2), pages 179-204, May.
    4. Cull, Robert & Davis, Lance E. & Lamoreaux, Naomi R. & Rosenthal, Jean-Laurent, 2006. "Historical financing of small- and medium-size enterprises," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(11), pages 3017-3042, November.
    5. Mehrotra, Vikas & Morck, Randall & Shim, Jungwook & Wiwattanakantang, Yupana, 2013. "Adoptive expectations: Rising sons in Japanese family firms," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(3), pages 840-854.
    6. Lazonick, William, 2006. "Corporate Governance, Innovative Enterprise, and Economic Development," WIDER Working Paper Series 071, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    7. Santella, Paolo & Baffi, Enrico & Drago, Carlo & Lattuca, Dino, 2008. "A Comparative Analysis of the Legal Obstacles to Institutional Investor Activism in Europe and in the US," MPRA Paper 8929, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

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

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