Faut-il limiter le nombre de mandats des administrateurs ?

Voici un article publié par JOANN S. LUBLIN paru dans The Wall Street Journal qui montre l’évolution remarquable de la gouvernance des sociétés au cours des quarante dernières années. Vous verrez qu’il y a une tendance lourde à limiter le nombre de mandats des administrateurs de sociétés, mais que ce changement ne se fait pas sans heurt.

Plusieurs pensent que, malgré certains avantages évidents à avoir des administrateurs séniors sur les C.A., cette situation est un frein à la diversité et au renouvellement des générations au sein des conseils d’administration. C’est un article qui discute de ces problématiques avec nuance et avec des statistiques à l’appui.

Je souligne certains extraits pertinents de cet article. Bonne lecture. Faites-moi part de nos commentaires sur ce sujet assez controversé.

The 40-Year Club: America’s Longest-Serving Directors


Board colleagues say long-serving members often provide useful context about a company, its industry and its past. But activist investors contend the growing ranks of long-serving board members occupy spots that otherwise might go to younger and fresher talent. « Over-tenured directors also frustrate the goal of race and gender diversity, » adds Brandon Rees, acting head of the AFL-CIO’s Office of Investment.

Staying Power

Twenty-eight outside directors have at least 40 years’ tenure on a U.S. public company board.

Voir l’article pour identifier les noms

While 40-year directors are rare, companies appear increasingly reluctant to shake up their boardrooms. Among Russell 3000 companies, 6,457 independent directors—nearly 34% of the total—have served a decade or longer, GMI found. That’s up from 3,216 or about 18% in 2008.

Companies in Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index elected the smallest number of new directors last year in 10 years, according to a study by recruiters Spencer Stuart.

Some activist investors believe long-tenured board members can become too cozy with management.

The Council of Institutional Investors, a governance advocate, may soon urge shareholders and boards to look more skeptically at the independence of long-serving directors, says Ann Yerger, its executive director.

« Board members may not be able to fully exercise independent judgment after several years of service, » she adds. The council represents 125 pension funds with more than $3 trillion of assets.

Certain less-tenured directors favor term limits to hasten turnover. But just 17 major corporations impose such limits, Spencer Stuart’s study showed. A 12-year term makes sense because « board members become very stale after a while, » says Fred Hassan, a Time Warner Inc. TWX +0.55%director since 2009 and former Schering-Plough Corp. MRK -0.21%chief executive. He hopes to propose that limit for new board members of the media giant.

Not surprisingly, long-serving board members frequently oppose such rules. Instead, they support replacing poor performers through periodic evaluations of individual members. Richard T. Fisher, a Leggett director since 1972, says he and David S. Haffner, the firm’s CEO, sold the idea to its board last year.

Men seen as impediments to shaking up boardrooms (business.financialpost.com)

HP Board Expands Amid Turnaround Push (cio-today.com)

After 41 years, Soriano steps down from Harrison board (kitsapsun.com)