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Il faut revoir les priorités des C.A. dans une ère d’activisme !

28 mars 2013

Aujourd’hui, je vous propose la lecture d’un excellent article paru dans DealBook | New York Times qui traite de la nouvelle réalité qui s’impose de plus en plus aux conseils d’administration des grandes entreprises publiques. Comment les C.A., à l’ère de l’activisme de groupes d’actionnaires organisés, peuvent-ils s’assurer de prendre en compte les intérêts à long terme de l’entreprise lorsque de formidables pressions s’exercent sur eux pour infléchir leurs décisions financières en faveur de gains à court terme ?

« The great challenge for today’s boards in this new era of activism is catering to all the diverse “shareholders,” which includes those with a longer investment horizon like pension funds and mutual funds, as well as those who are seeking quick profits. The board should represent all shareholders, not any one region or philosophy ».

L’article d’Ira M. Millstein* ne donne certainement pas toutes les réponses mais il invite les conseils d’administration à revoir leurs priorités stratégiques. L’Université Columbia a entrepris une vaste étude sur les motivations qui poussent les entreprises à gérer à court terme. Ainsi donc de nombreuses recherches en cours devraient apporter un éclairage nouveau sur ce phénomène. Et vous, quel est votre point de vue ?

« Columbia, along with studies at other institutions, is  trying to learn what motivates short-term investing, why the longer-term shareholders are so often silent and why the investment chain either through apathy or the wrong incentives, has created the world of short-term investing in which we live.  This undertaking will also examine the role of so-called proxy advisory firms and rating agencies in board policies. In the end, we will all gain a better understanding of shareholder influence, and what incentives can turn this economy away from short-term investing and back to long-term sustainable growth.  Corporations will be the ultimate beneficiaries of this knowledge, which will provide the understanding that will facilitate legitimate long-term planning ».

Re-examining Board Priorities in an Era of Activism

« With the recent increase in activism, some on Wall Street are blaming shareholders for the short-term mentality of corporate boards. But many of these activists represent a small subset of investors in publicly held companies. As a result, corporate boards around the country should re-examine their priorities and figure out to whom they owe their fiduciary duties. One of the major problems of this newfound activism is the focus on short-term results. That is not to say that our economy isn’t gripped by a short-term mentality, whether it’s individuals saving less and seeking immediate satisfaction or corporations forgoing long-term sustainable growth and profitability to meet investor demands for quarterly stock market returns.

GE Shareholder Meeting protest

GE Shareholder Meeting protest (Photo credit: Fuzzytek)

But as many commentators have pointed out, activist investors are manipulating the system without succeeding in increasing shareholder value or instilling better corporate governance practices. Some activists are using their newfound power to sway and bully management to focus on the short term, meet the quarterly targets and disgorge cash in extra dividends or stock buy backs in lieu of investing in long-term growth. In recent years, companies including Dell, Yahoo and others have faced proxy wars or shareholder proposals to merge, divest, change boards or management or undergo a drastic reorganization…

… Academics and practitioners should be studying these questions intensely. This involves canvassing and analyzing the entire investment chain that boards face, including pension funds, mutual funds and hedge funds of hundreds of varieties and ordinary investors and advisers, which one project at Columbia Law School aims to do ».


Ira M. Millstein est co-présidente du Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership de Columbia Law School et associée sénior de la firme Weil, Gotshal & Manges.

Preserving Balance in Corporate Governance (

The Uneasy Case for Favoring Long-term Shareholders (

Shareholder Group Makes Progress in Fight for Annual Board Elections (

Communications entre le C.A et les actionnaires | Prise de position de Richard Leblanc (

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