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Insatisfaction des actionnaires envers les administrateurs ?

21 octobre 2013

Voici un article très intéressant de R. Christopher Small, Coéditeur du HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, qui présente les grandes lignes d’une recherche sur les conséquences encourues par les administrateurs qui font l’objet de contestation de la part des actionnaires.

Comment les carrières des administrateurs sont-elles affectées par un vote de non-confiance des actionnaires ? La recherche indique que les actionnaires n’ont pas beaucoup de pouvoir pour évincer un administrateur qui n’a pas un bon rendement. Cependant, si la contestation est largement diffusée, notamment par une guerre des votes (Proxy Contests), il en résultera un très grand coût pour les directeurs ciblés.

Ci-dessous, un extrait de l’article. Vous pouvez lire le billet paru dans HLS ou consulter le document en détail.

Bonne lecture. Les commentaires sont les bienvenus.

Application des principes de gouvernance pour contester l’insatisfaction des actionnaires envers les administrateurs ? | Career Consequences of Proxy Contests

…The fundamental feature of corporate governance is shareholders’ right to elect directors to represent their interests. This shareholder representation by the board of directors is a central component of corporate governance. For corporate governance to be effective, shareholders who are dissatisfied with a board’s performance must have a mechanism to replace directors. If shareholders’ impact on electing and replacing directors is weak, so is the connection between owners and managers.

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In our paper, Shareholder Democracy in Play: Career Consequences of Proxy Contests, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, my co-author, Margarita Tsoutsoura, and I investigate whether proxy contests affect the careers of directors whose companies have been targeted. Specifically, the paper aims to shed light on whether shareholders are able impose a career cost on directors when they are dissatisfied with firm performance. This question is particularly important in today’s environment when activist shareholders often demand reforms in corporate governance. For example, the process of shareholders nominating and electing directors was at the heart of the recent (failed) proxy-access reform that was motivated by the Dodd-Frank Act. Proponents of the reform argued its necessity in increasing the power of shareholders to be able to elect or remove directors from the board (Bebchuk, 2007). On the other hand, critics of this view argued that shareholders already have tools to hold directors accountable (Bainbridge, 2006) …

Shareholders have two main tools to remove poorly performing directors. First, shareholders can use uncontested election. Prior literature has shown that attempts to remove directors through uncontested elections have not been effective. In regular elections, shareholders cannot technically vote against a director, but instead can only withhold their authority to vote in favor of a nominee. Most US firms have plurality voting rules in uncontested elections. As a result, removing directors in uncontested elections is almost impossible. Specifically, a director can be re-elected even if just a few shareholders vote for him. The prospect of shareholders having an effective voice in removing directors in uncontested elections seems limited, and directors do not appear to suffer reputational effects from low votes (Cai et al., 2009).

The second mechanism shareholders have is to discipline directors through proxy contests. Dissatisfied shareholders can nominate an alternative slate of directors by initiating a proxy contest and therefore provide all shareholders with a clear alternative to incumbent nominees. Nevertheless, no evidence exists supporting the idea that directors who are targeted in proxy contests suffer any career consequences. Moreover, existing evidence has led to the conclusion that proxy contests are rarely successful (e.g., Pound, 1988; DeAngelo and DeAngelo, 1989; Ikenberry and Lakonishok, 1993) …

… The final part of the analysis investigates whether the effect of proxy contests varies with observed director or proxy contest event characteristics. We find that independent incumbent directors experience more severe loss of other directorships than insider incumbent directors. Overall, the results indicate the proxy-contest mechanism imposes a significant career cost on incumbent directors. Following a proxy contest, incumbent directors are likely to lose directorships in both targeted and non-targeted companies. Therefore, the proxy-contest mechanism is effective in imposing significant career costs on incumbent directors.

The full paper is available for download here.

The Disciplinary Effects of Proxy Contests (blogs.law.harvard.edu)

Sérieux rapprochement entre les actionnaires activistes et les actionnaires institutionnels (jacquesgrisegouvernance.com)

Proxy Fights ‘Are Antiquated And In Need of Reform’ (blogs.wsj.com)

Proxy battles chart course into less turbulent waters (business.financialpost.com)

The Deal: Universal Proxy Battle Fight Gathers Steam at SEC (thestreet.com)

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