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Corporate Ownership and Control in Victorian Britain

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  • Acheson, Graeme
  • Campbell, Gareth
  • Turner, John D.
  • Vanteeva, Nadia

Abstract

Using ownership and control data for 890 firm-years, this paper examines the concentration of capital and voting rights in British companies in the second half of the nineteenth century. We find that both capital and voting rights were diffuse by modern-day standards. This implies that ownership was separated from control in the UK much earlier than previously thought, and given that it occurred in an era with weak shareholder protection law, it undermines the influential law and finance hypothesis. We also find that diffuse ownership is correlated with large boards, a London head office, non-linear voting rights, and shares traded on multiple markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Acheson, Graeme & Campbell, Gareth & Turner, John D. & Vanteeva, Nadia, 2014. "Corporate Ownership and Control in Victorian Britain," QUCEH Working Paper Series 14-01, Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University Centre for Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:qucehw:1401
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    2. Balakrishnan Kavya & Santhakumar Shijin, 2017. "Ownership and Control of Widely and Closely Held Firms in India," Vision, , vol. 21(4), pages 449-460, December.
    3. Leslie Hannah & Robert Bennett, 2022. "Large‐scale Victorian manufacturers: Reconstructing the lost 1881 UK employer census," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 75(3), pages 830-856, August.
    4. Eric Hilt, 2014. "History of American Corporate Governance: Law, Institutions, and Politics," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 1-21, December.
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    6. Turner, John D., 2017. "The development of English company law before 1900," QUCEH Working Paper Series 2017-01, Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University Centre for Economic History.
    7. Les Hannah & James Foreman-Peck, 2014. "Ownership dispersion and listing rules in companies large and small: A reply," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 56(3), pages 509-516, April.
    8. John D Turner & Qing Ye & Clive B Walker, 2018. "Media Coverage and Stock Returns on the London Stock Exchange, 1825–70," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 22(4), pages 1605-1629.
    9. Janette Rutterford & Dimitris Sotiropoulos & Carry van Lieshout, 2015. "Individual investors and local bias in the UK, 1870-1935," Working Papers 15009, Economic History Society.
    10. Campbell, Gareth & Quinn, William & Turner, John D. & Ye, Qing, 2015. "What moved share prices in the nineteenth-century London stock market?," QUCEH Working Paper Series 15-06, Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University Centre for Economic History.
    11. Hannah, Leslie & Bennett, Robert J., 2021. "Large-scale Victorian manufacturers: reconstructing the lost 1881 UK employer census," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 111895, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    12. HANNAH, Leslie, 2018. "Corporate Governance, Accounting Transparency and Stock Exchange Sizes in Germany, Japan and “Anglo-Saxon” Economies, 1870-1950," Discussion paper series HIAS-E-77, Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study, Hitotsubashi University.
    13. Acheson, Graeme G. & Coyle, Christopher & Jordan, David P. & Turner, John D., 2018. "Share trading activity and the rise of the rentier in the UK before 1920," QUCEH Working Paper Series 2018-04, Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University Centre for Economic History.
    14. Gareth Campbell & William Quinn & John D. Turner & Qing Ye, 2018. "What moved share prices in the nineteenth†century London stock market?," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 71(1), pages 157-189, February.
    15. Eric Hilt, 2014. "Corporate Governance and the Development of Manufacturing Enterprises in Nineteenth-Century Massachusetts," NBER Chapters, in: Enterprising America: Businesses, Banks, and Credit Markets in Historical Perspective, pages 73-102, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Acheson, Graeme G. & Campbell, Gareth & Turner, John D., 2016. "Common law and the origin of shareholder protection," eabh Papers 16-03, The European Association for Banking and Financial History (EABH).
    17. Jansson, Walter, 2018. "Stock markets, banks and economic growth in the UK, 1850–1913," Financial History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 25(3), pages 263-296, December.
    18. Lehmann-Hasemeyer, Sibylle H. & Neumayer, Andreas, 2018. "The persistence of ownership inequality. Investors on the German stock exchanges, 1869 – 1945," Working Papers 8, German Research Foundation's Priority Programme 1859 "Experience and Expectation. Historical Foundations of Economic Behaviour", Humboldt University Berlin.
    19. David A Bogle & Christopher Coyle & John D Turner, 2022. "Capital market development over the long run: the portfolios of UK life assurers over two centuries [Corporate ownership and control in Victorian Britain]," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(3), pages 370-398.
    20. Janette Rutterford & Dimitris P. Sotiropoulos & Carry van Lieshout, 2017. "Individual investors and local bias in the UK, 1870–1935," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 70(4), pages 1291-1320, November.
    21. Coyle, Christopher & Musacchio, Aldo & Turner, John D., 2019. "Law and finance in Britain c.1900," Financial History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(3), pages 267-293, December.
    22. Bogle, David A. & Coyle, Christopher & Turner, John D., 2020. "Capital market development over the long run: The portfolios of UK life assurers over two centuries," QUCEH Working Paper Series 2020-09, Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University Centre for Economic History.
    23. Lehmann-Hasemeyer, Sibylle H. & Neumayer, Andreas, 2018. "The persistence of ownership inequality: Investors on the German stock exchanges, 1869-1945," Hohenheim Discussion Papers in Business, Economics and Social Sciences 20-2018, University of Hohenheim, Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Corporate ownership and control; Law and finance hypothesis; British financial history; Shareholder protection law;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • K22 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Business and Securities Law
    • N24 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - Europe: 1913-

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