Voucher funds in transitional economies : the Czech and Slovak experience
Voucher funds have arisen in the transitional economies of Eastern and Central Europe that have used voucher privatization. These funds collect vouchers from citizens and use them to buy shares in enterprises. In the Czech and Slovak Republics, voucher funds are typically organized as corporations owned by the citizens who contributed their vouchers. Recently, they have also been organized as unit trusts (either open-ended or closed). A management company manages the funds under a contract that specifies the management fee. The management company is typically owned by the initial sponsor of the fund - for example, a bank. Voucher funds can give owners a diversified and professionally managed portfolio. More important, the funds select who sits on an enterprise's governance boards (which oversee management and profitability). Although experience is limited, the funds in these two countries have probably stopped most fraud and self-serving by enterprise mangers and are beginning to encourage the restructuring needed for profitability. A few funds have replaced poorly performing or dishonest managers; more often, because qualified replacements are few, they encourage managers to improve performance. There have been complaints about funds'performance. Some have made unrealistic promises to voucher holders and have appointed poorly qualified members to management boards. There is concern about conflicts of interest in the bank-sponsored funds and excessive control of enterprises. Funds typically lack capital or expertise to undertake restructuring - but few other potential owners are likely to be better qualified. The author examines 27 regulations that have been proposed for funds. Regulations in transitional economies, unlike regulations in most western countries, should encourage funds to play a strong role in corporate governance, he contends, as few potential owners have this ability. Most important, regulations should require that funds disclose information about their operations so their owners can monitor and control fund managers. The regulatory regime, the author says, should discourage monopolies and anticompetitive behavior; create incentives for fund managers to improve fund performance; discourage self-serving or fraudulent behavior by fund managers, and conflicts of interest; and eliminate high-risk investments unacceptable to fund owners. Because there is so little experience with these funds, the regulatory regime should not be unduly restrictive. As problems arise, regulations to deal with them can be added.
|Date of creation:||31 Jul 1994|
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