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Corporate Ownership Around the World

  • Rafael La Porta
  • Florencio Lopez-de-Silane
  • 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 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6625.

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Date of creation: Jun 1998
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Publication status: published as Journal of Finance, Vol. 54, no. 2 (1999): 471-517.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6625
Note: CF
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  1. 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.
  2. Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1996. "Law and Finance," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1768, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    • Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1996. "Law and Finance," NBER Working Papers 5661, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W., 1998. "Law and Finance," Scholarly Articles 3451310, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    • Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, . "Law and Finance," Working Paper 19451, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  3. 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.
  4. Prowse, Stephen D, 1992. " The Structure of Corporate Ownership in Japan," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(3), pages 1121-40, July.
  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. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1997. " A Survey of Corporate Governance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(2), pages 737-83, June.
  9. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1994. "Politicians and Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 995-1025, November.
  10. Franks, Julian & Mayer, Colin, 2001. "Ownership and Control of German Corporations," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 14(4), pages 943-77.
  11. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1998. "Agency Problems and Dividend Policies Around the World," NBER Working Papers 6594, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Mark J. Roe, 1997. "The Political Roots Of American Corporate Finance," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 9(4), pages 8-22.
  15. Bebchuk, Lucian Arye, 1994. "Efficient and Inefficient Sales of Corporate Control," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 957-93, November.
  16. 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.
  17. Erik Berglof, 1997. "Reforming corporate governance: redirecting the European agenda," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 12(24), pages 91-123, 04.
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  19. 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.
  20. Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, . "Legal Determinants of External Finance," Working Paper 19443, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  21. 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.
  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. 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.
  24. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1986. "Large Shareholders and Corporate Control," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages 461-88, June.
  25. 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.
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