Le point sur la future loi californienne eu égard aux quotas de femmes sur les CA


Voici un article de Tomas Pereira, analyste de recherche à Equilar Inc, publié sur le site du Harvard Law School Forum qui fait le point sur la future loi californienne eu égard aux quotas de femmes sur les CA.

L’étude présente des statistiques intéressantes sur la situation des femmes sur les CA en Californie et fait état de projections concernant l’effet des mesures. Rappelons que l’état de la Californie est le premier état qui s’aventure dans l’établissement de quotas pour favoriser la diversité sur les conseils d’administration.

La législation propose qu’une entreprise ait au moins une femme sur le CA au 31 décembre 2019,

That minimum will be raised to at least two female board members for companies with five directors or at least three female board members for companies with six or more directors by December 31, 2021.

Ainsi en 2021, les conseils d’administration devront compter au moins trois femmes sur les CA, si le nombre d’administrateurs est de six ou plus.

Bonne lecture !

 

Gender Quotas in California Boardrooms

 

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By August 31, 2018, California could become the first state in the nation to mandate publicly held companies that base their operations in the state to have women on their boards. The legislation—SB 826—will require public companies headquartered in California to have a minimum of one female on its board of directors by December 31, 2019. That minimum will be raised to at least two female board members for companies with five directors or at least three female board members for companies with six or more directors by December 31, 2021.

If SB 826 is passed in the Assembly and signed by Governor Jerry Brown, corporations not compliant with the new rules will be subjected to financial consequences. Strike one will be accompanied with a fine equal to the average annual cash compensation of directors. Any subsequent violation would amount to a fine equal to three times the average annual cash compensation for directors. Hence, the consequences are very real for companies that choose not to comply with the new rules.

A new study by Equilar looks at where public companies headquartered in California currently lie in relation to the proposed legislation. The study includes public companies in California that have annual revenues of $5 million or more—amounting to a total of 211 companies with an aggregate of 349 female and 1,466 male board members.

 

Looking broadly, California is slightly below other states and the national average in terms of average women on a board. California, on average, has 1.65 female members per board, whereas other states and the United States as a whole average 1.76 and 1.75 female members, respectively. This type of statistic is a likely factor in spurring state legislators in Sacramento to make significant changes to the status quo and place California in a leading role for board diversity in the United States.

 

By 2019, most companies in California would be safe from any financial penalties for having an insufficient number of female board members. As it stands now, 82% of public companies in California who have annual revenues of over $5 million will meet the initial criteria, whereas 18% will not. Consequently, 37 public companies would be faced with a fine equal to the average annual director compensation for failing to comply.

In the following table, Equilar examined the 82% success rate a bit further and broke it down by sector in order to examine which industries are driving the rates of success and failure. By 2019, the basic materials and utilities sectors in California would both have a 100% success rate. Thus, every company within these two sectors has at least one female director present on their board. The next sector with the highest rate of success is services, with 92% having at least one female member. Both the healthcare and technology sectors are tied for lowest compliance at 83% pass.

 

When looking at the companies that would meet the secondary December 31, 2021 criteria, the picture is much bleaker at present for public companies in California. According to the proposed legislation, the required minimum would increase to two female board members for companies with five total directors or to three female board members for companies with at least six total directors.

 

Taking that future criteria and applying it to today, 79% of public companies would fail, while only 21% would pass. The following table sees basic materials—one of the sectors with 100% company success rate with the previous 2019 criteria—fall down to a 50-50 ratio of pass to fail. The sector with the highest success rate is utilities, while the industrial goods sector has the lowest success rate at 75% and 14%, respectively.

 

While the path for the proposed legislation is still a bit rocky, the broader trend towards diversifying boardrooms across the country is growing. Companies should anticipate new legislation—not just SB 826—sprouting throughout more state legislatures and get ahead of this rolling tide. States like Maine, Illinois and Ohio have already begun promoting resolutions to encourage companies to diversify their boards. In addition, BlackRock and other institutional investors have publicly stated that they will expect at least two female members per board. The push towards gender diversification is well warranted. Studies by management consulting firms, such as Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey & Co., have shown that diverse boards perform better financially. Signs do point to a gradual progression towards gender parity in the boardroom, as noted by the Q1 2018 Equilar Gender Diversity Index. However, without proactive encouragement or legislation, it would take decades before a true gender balance is realized.

L’émergence de la Chine dans le monde de la gouvernance moderne


Aujourd’hui, je vous propose la lecture d’un article sur l’évolution de la gouvernance chinoise.

Les auteurs, Jamie Allen*et Li Rui, de la Asian Corporate Governance Association (ACGA), ont produit un excellent rapport sur les changements que vivent les entreprises chinoises eu égard à la gouvernance.

L’étude se base sur une enquête auprès d’entreprises chinoises et auprès d’investisseurs étrangers. Également, les auteurs présentent une mine d’information sur la situation de la gouvernance.J’ai reproduit, ci-après, un résumé de l’enquête.

Bonne lecture !

 

With its securities market continuing to internationalise and grow in complexity, China appears at a turning point in its application of CG and ESG principles.

The time is right to strengthen communication and understanding between domestic and foreign market participants.

 

 

Awakening Governance: ACGA China Corporate Governance Report 2018

 

 

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Introduction: Bridging the gap

 

The story of modern corporate governance in China is closely connected to the rapid evolution of its capital markets following the opening to the outside world in 1978. The 1980s brought the first issuance of shares by state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and a lively over-the-counter market. National stock markets were relaunched in Shanghai and Shenzhen in 1990 to 1991, while new guidance on the corporatisation and listing of SOEs was issued in 1992. The first overseas listing of a state enterprise came in October 1992 in New York, followed by the first SOE listing in Hong Kong in 1993. Corporate governance reform gained momentum in the late 1990s, but it was less a byproduct of the Asian Financial Crisis than a need to strengthen the governance of SOEs listing abroad. The early 2000s then brought a series of major reforms on independent directors, quarterly reporting and board governance aimed squarely at domestically listed firms.

A great deal has changed in China since then, with periods of intense policy focus on corporate governance followed by consolidation. In recent years, China’s equity market has undergone a renewed burst of internationalisation through Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Connect, relaxed rules for Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors, and the landmark inclusion of 234 leading A shares in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index in June 2018. While capital controls and other restrictions on foreign investment remain, there seems little reason to doubt that foreign portfolio investment will play an increasing role in China’s public and private securities markets in the foreseeable future.

Running parallel to market internationalisation, and facilitated by it, is a broadening of the scope of corporate governance to include a focus on environmental and social factors (“ESG”), and a deepening concern about climate change and environmental sustainability. Pension funds and investment managers in China are now encouraged by the government to look closely at ESG risks and opportunities in their investment process. And green finance has become big business in China, with green bond issuance growing steadily. Indeed, these themes are also part of the newly revised Code of Corporate Governance for Listed Companies (2018) from the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC); this is the first revision of the Code since 2002.

 

Turning point

 

China thus appears at a new turning point in its market development and application of corporate governance principles. While it is difficult to predict how this process will unfurl, we believe three broad developments would be beneficial:

-That unlisted and listed companies in China see corporate governance and ESG not merely as a compliance requirement, but as tools for enhancing organisational effectiveness and corporate performance over the longer term. This applies as much to entrepreneurial privately owned enterprises (POEs) as established SOEs. The view that good governance is not relevant or possible in young, innovative firms is misguided.

-That domestic institutional investors in China see corporate governance and ESG not only as tools for mitigating investment risk, but as a platform for enhancing the value of existing investments through active dialogue with investee companies. The process of engagement can also help investors differentiate between companies that take governance seriously and those which do not.

-That foreign institutional investors view corporate governance in China as something more nuanced than a division between “shareholder unfriendly” SOEs and “exciting but risky” POEs. We recommend foreign asset owners and managers spend more time on the ground in China and invest in studying China’s corporate governance system, if they are not already doing so.

Of course, there are many exceptions to these broad characterisations. It is possible to find companies which view governance as a learning journey—and they are not necessarily listed. Certain mainland asset managers have begun investigating how to integrate governance and ESG factors into their investment process. And there are a growing number of foreign investors, both boutique and mainstream, that have developed a deep understanding of the diversity among SOEs and POEs and which have achieved excellent investment returns from SOEs as well.

Not surprisingly, however, our research has found that significant gaps in communication and understanding do exist between foreign institutional investors and China listed companies. According to an original survey undertaken by ACGA for this report, a majority of foreign investor respondents (59%) admitted that they did not understand corporate governance in China. Only 10% answered in the affirmative, while another 31% felt they “somewhat” understood the system. Conversely, it appears that most China listed companies do not appreciate the challenges that foreign institutional investors face in navigating “corporate governance with Chinese characteristics”.

This report is written for both a domestic and international audience. Our aim is to describe in as fair and factual a manner as possible the system of corporate governance in China, highlighting what is unique, what looks the same but is different, and areas of genuine similarity with other major securities markets. The main part of the report focuses on “Chinese characteristics” and looks at the role of Party organisations/committees, the board of directors, supervisory boards, independent directors, SOEs vs POEs, and audit committees/auditing. Each chapter explains the current legal and regulatory basis for the governance institution described, the particular challenges that companies and investors face, and concludes with suggestions for next steps. Our intention has been to craft recommendations that are practical and anchored firmly in the current CG system in China—in other words, that are implementable by companies and institutional investors. We hope the suggestions, and indeed this report, will be viewed as a constructive contribution to the development of China’s capital market.

The remainder of this Introduction provides an overview of key macro results from our two surveys. We start with the good news—that a large proportion of foreign institutional investors and local companies are optimistic about China—then highlight the challenges both sides face in addressing governance issues. The following chapters draw upon additional material from the two surveys.

ACGA survey—The big picture

Are you optimistic?

 

The good news from our survey is that a sizeable proportion of both foreign investors (38% of respondents) and China listed companies (52%) are optimistic about the investment potential of the A share market over the next five to 10 years, as Figure 1.1 below shows. Only 21% of foreign investors are negative, while the remainder are neutral. Not surprisingly, only 15% of China respondents were negative, while almost one-third were neutral.

 

Do you agree with MSCI?

 

The picture diverges on the issue of whether MSCI was right to include A shares in its Emerging Markets Index in 2018: only 27% of foreign respondents agreed compared to 65% of Chinese respondents, as Figure 1.2, below, shows. Almost half the foreign respondents did not agree compared to a mere 12% for Chinese respondents. A similar proportion was neutral in both surveys.

 

Challenges—Foreign institutional investors

The investment process

 

Foreign investors face a range of challenges investing in China, the first of which is understanding the companies in which they invest. As Figure 1.3 below indicates, foreign investors do not rely solely on information provided by companies when making investment decisions, but utilise a range of additional sources. It appears that listed companies are not aware of this issue.

 

Company engagement

 

Globally, institutional investors seek to enter into dialogue with their investee companies. It is no different in China, as shown in Figure 1.4.

 

 

But the process is not easy.

 

 

And successful outcomes are fairly thin on the ground to date.

 

Common threads

 

Respondents gave a range of answers as to why the process of engagement was difficult and successful outcomes limited, but some common threads were discernible:

Language and communication: In addition to straightforward linguistic difficulties (ie, companies not speaking English, investors not speaking Chinese), the communication problem is sometimes cultural. As one person said, “Even though I am from China, it is hard to interpret hidden messages.”

Access: Getting access to companies can be difficult. Getting to meet the right senior-level person, such as a director or executive, can be even more challenging.

Investor relations (IR): While some IR teams are professional, many are not. As one respondent commented: “IR (managers) are not very well trained and some of them lack basic understanding or knowledge of corporate governance or even financial information.”

CG as compliance: A common complaint is that companies view CG as merely a compliance exercise. Some refuse to give “detailed answers beyond the party line”.

Non-alignment: There is a recurring feeling that the interests of controlling shareholders in SOEs are not aligned with minority shareholders. One investor commented on the “lack of responsiveness” to outside shareholder suggestions, adding that SOEs “wait for government to give the direction, not investors”.

Lack of understanding: There can be a significant gap in the awareness of CG and ESG principles.

 

Empathy for companies

 

Conversely, a few respondents expressed empathy for the position of companies. As one wrote: “There also appears to be an under appreciation by international investors of the differences in culture, political context, and the path and stage of economic development between China and the rest of the world. Any attempt at influencing changes without a reasonable understanding of these differences is likely to be ineffective and (may) at times lead to unintended consequences.”

Another explained some of the regulatory challenges facing listed companies: “With a few exceptions, both SOEs and POEs have to deal with stringent and ever-changing industry regulations and government policies.”

A third said that some engagement had been positive: “Generally, where I have had access to the right people, engagement has been constructive. I suspect this is a result of the companies already appreciating the value of good governance in attracting non-domestic investors.”

And perhaps the most positive comment of all: “A number of the Chinese companies we speak to, especially the industry leaders, already address ESG risks in their businesses. Most of them publish ESG reports annually, which help to set the benchmark for their industry and also to garner positive feedback from society and hence, end-customers. Some of such companies end up enjoying a pricing premium on their products once this positive brand equity has been established. This creates a virtuous cycle, where ESG becomes part of their corporate culture. They understand that for the long-term sustainability of their business, and for the benefits of all their stakeholders, such investment can only enhance their competitiveness.”

 

Brave new world of stewardship

 

Yet most investors still find engaging with companies a challenge. A further reason may be that China is one of only three major markets in Asia-Pacific that has not yet issued an “investor stewardship code”. Such codes push institutional investors to take CG and ESG more seriously, incorporate these concepts into their investment process, and help to encourage greater dialogue between listed companies and their shareholders (see Table 1.1, below). In recent years, the bar has been quickly raised on this issue in Asia and expectations have risen commensurately.

Without an explicit policy driving investor stewardship, it is unlikely that the average listed company will give proper weight to a dialogue with shareholders. As one foreign investor said: “Generally speaking, it is relatively easier to engage with bigger listed companies. SOEs and larger companies tend to be more responsive. SOEs have more incentive to do so following government guidelines and trends.”

A key question to ask is who within a company should be responsible for engaging with shareholders? The short answer is the board, as a group representing and accountable to shareholders. Indeed, on a positive note, our survey found that most Chinese listed companies do admit that the responsibility for talking to shareholders should not be placed solely on the investor relations (IR) team (see Figure 1.7 below). But given that delegating this task to IR remains a common practice, it would appear that there is an inconsistency between words and actions here.

 

 

 

Challenges—China listed companies

 

Some additional factors clearly play on the willingness of companies to take CG and ESG seriously, as Figures 1.8 and 1.9 below show.

Does the market reward good CG?

 

Only 27% of the respondents to our China listed company survey believe there is a close correlation between good corporate governance and company performance. Another 46% think they are “somewhat related”, while a quarter see no relationship. These results broadly align with the view common in most markets, including China, that only a minority of companies (usually the large caps) feel incentivised to improve their governance practices and that they will be rewarded by investors if they do so.

 

Even more concerning is the largely negative view on whether better governance helps a company to list.

 

 

As an aside, this might also help to explain why listed POEs in China are generally not seen as being a better investment proposition or as having better governance than SOEs—an issue we explore in Chapter 3.5.

Only 23% of foreign respondents said they preferred investing in POEs over SOEs, while two-thirds said they did not. Meanwhile, only 10% of China listed companies thought POEs were better governed than SOEs. Around one-third thought they were about the same, while 54% thought POEs were worse.

Even so, in a fast-growing market such as China, there is a risk in taking a static or one-dimensional view.

‘Companies will have to become more ESG aware’

 

We conclude this section with a wide-ranging comment from a China-based institutional investor on the need to see governance and ESG as a process:

Chinese companies are generally financial weaker than their more established peers in developed markets. This is a symptom of markets being at different stages of development. For Chinese companies, survival is the top priority. Once they have gained enough market share and accumulated a certain level of capital reserves, they will start to consider ESG issues. This will help them cement their market position and grow more healthily in the long term.

At the moment, we recognise that the cost of not practicing ESG is not high in China. But things are changing, especially on the environmental front. We can see that the government is very serious about closing down small players who are not compliant with emission standards. The quality of air, earth and water concerns the livelihood of every citizen, and we believe that there will be heightened enforcement of pollution laws.

Corporate governance is also improving as public shareholders get more actively involved in major corporate actions. Having said that, shareholder structures remain highly concentrated, especially for SOEs in China, and external forces may not be strong enough to ensure a proper division of power.

We see increasing numbers of entrepreneurs and companies more willing to give back to society and the challenge here is simply that philanthropy is quite new in China.

As society becomes more civilised and consumers become more aware of issues such as child labour and environmental pollution, Chinese companies will have to become more ESG aware and responsible.

 

Interview: ‘Character and quality of management is critical’

 

David Smith CFA, Head of Corporate Governance, Aberdeen Standard Investments Asia, Singapore

 

What is your view on investing in A shares?

 

We have an A share fund, so naturally, we have spent substantial time and effort getting comfortable with both the market and the companies. There are well-documented risks surrounding investing in China, but the market has obvious attractions China is leading the world in some of the sectors, like e-commerce, for example. As investors, we always have to balance return with macroeconomic risk, political risk, regulatory risk, and so on, and this is certainly the case for China.

 

What is your view on stock suspensions in China?

 

The situation is getting better but companies too often still choose to suspend given a pending “restructuring”, which protects potential investors at the expense of existing investors, something that can be incredibly frustrating given how long we can be locked up for. There is a general misunderstanding in China as to what suspension means: companies should only suspend when there is information asymmetry, not when there is uncertainty. We are paid to analyse and deal with uncertainty, and the market will find a price for it. If companies have to suspend whenever there is uncertainty, we won’t have a stock market in place.

In general, there are too many suspensions in China. If a company has a restructuring plan or a regulatory investigation is going on, it should just disclose this through an announcement; as long as everyone in the market knows the same information, the stock should keep trading.

The issue of price-sensitive information has already been taken care of by regulations around continuous disclosure, so a suspension is often not protecting anyone, it just removes liquidity for existing investors. This issue is exacerbated by the bizarre and unusual situation of dual-listed A/H share companies suspending on one exchange and not the other.

In developed markets, in contrast, suspensions of issuers lasting more than a month for whatever reason are very rare. Part of the issue is also that promoter shares might sometimes have been pledged, so promoters want to avoid a share price fall triggering a margin call.

 

What are the top CG issues you have observed in Chinese companies?

 

Entrepreneur risk (people risk) is the most obvious one, including related-party transaction risks, along with operational and execution risks. For Aberdeen, we never invest if we feel uncomfortable with the founder or management. Both the character and quality of the people inside the company is something we value a lot in our investment decision-making process.

Regulatory risk is another issue. Changes in regulations can affect not just SOEs but also POEs to different extents. For example, the recent regulatory change on the reinforcement of Party committees inside Chinese companies is not what foreign investors expected to see as the direction of corporate governance development in China.

Another issue is that given more and more onus put on independent directors, maybe we need to think about another way to elect them. The current situation involves voting for independent directors on their independence, rather than competence. However, “independence” can be easily gamed in Asia. Many independent directors are structurally independent but rely on the company for their living (pension), so investors are increasingly asking if/how they add value to board discussions.

 

What is your view on voting trends among China listed firms? Does voting lead to engagement

 

Not much has changed. Any voting against has tended to focus on resolutions like related-party transactions, or other corporate actions, rather than issues across the board.

Engagement is getting a little bit better in China. We have seen more and more companies listening to us, and dialogue is getting much better. Companies increasingly understand that we are not in China for the short-term and that our interests are aligned. That certainly helps.

 

Methodology

A tale of two surveys

 

The two surveys in this report, the “ACGA Foreign Institutional Investor Perceptions Survey 2017” and the “ACGA China Listed Company Perceptions Survey 2017”, were developed internally in the first half of 2017 and carried out over 21 July to 1 September of that year. They were distributed through ACGA’s global network of members and contacts, and by a number of supporting organisations both inside and outside China (see the Acknowledgements page for details).

Purpose

We decided to conduct a survey at the preliminary stage of this project for two main reasons. The first was to add a broader range of perspectives to the report and to complement the extensive research carried out by ACGA and our contributing authors.

The second was to develop new data on corporate governance in China. When we began researching this report, we found that much of the information on board structures and governance practices in China was out of date, incomplete or non-existent. We developed the survey to partially fill this gap. To complement this information, we turned to data providers such as Wind and Valueonline to provide raw data on which we could do original analysis—and we carried out our own reviews of specific governance practices among large listed companies.

Foreign Institutional Investor Perceptions Survey

The Foreign Institutional Investor Perceptions Survey contained 22 questions and focused on areas that we believe are relevant to China’s investment potential and governance. They can be divided into the following categories:

Macro questions, such as capital market development, MSCI inclusion, SOEs vs POEs, and mainland-listed vs overseas-listed firms.

Shareholder rights, including investor protection in China vs overseas.

Company governance, including corporate reporting, role of chairman, independent directors, supervisory boards.

Role of government, including appointment of chairmen, intervention in SOEs and POEs, the role of the Party organisation/committee.

Investor engagement with companies.

Several of the questions provided options for respondents to give detailed answers and, where relevant, these comments are incorporated into our text.

The survey was developed by ACGA in Q2 2017 and first tested with a select group of ACGA global investor members in June of that year. It was refined based on feedback received before being sent out electronically in July. The recipients were primarily drawn from among ACGA’s list of institutional investor members based in Asia and around the world. This was complemented by recipients from our supporting organisation membership networks.

In total, we received 155 complete and comparable responses. Partial responses were not counted. Based on information gathered about respondents’ titles, they fell into three broad groups: CEOs, directors, managing directors or partners; portfolio managers and analysts; and managers or specialists in CG, ESG or stewardship. A large proportion held senior roles in their organisations.

The total assets under management (AUM) of all respondents amounted to around US$40 trillion, with the range from US$20m to US$6 trillion. In other words, a mix of both boutique investment managers and large mainstream institutions.

China Listed Company Perceptions Survey

The China Listed Company Perceptions Survey contained 12 questions and likewise focused on areas that we believe are relevant to such companies, their directors and managers. While there were fewer questions in this survey, they covered similar categories as in our foreign survey, namely macro issues, company governance, role of government, and investor engagement.

We designed some questions to be identical to the Foreign Institutional Investor Survey, in order to allow direct comparisons between corporate and investor perspectives on the same issue.

We also asked some unique questions of companies, such as whether or not they see a close correlation between corporate governance and performance, and whether better governance helps a firm list its shares.

The survey recipients were drawn from among ACGA’s corporate membership base, as well as clients and contacts of supporting organisations.

In total, we received 182 complete responses from which we extracted the survey results. Most respondents held senior positions in their companies such as directors, executives, board secretaries and senior managers. Most of the companies represented have been listed in China for more than five years and have a market cap of more than Rmb5 billion (US$800m approx). Further demographic data on the two groups of respondents follows:

 

Foreign respondents

The foreign institutional investors who responded are mostly from the US, UK, Asia and the European Union, as shown in Figure 1.10 below. The response is consistent with the distribution of ACGA members by region. Investors from Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East and Canada also responded to the survey.

 

 

In terms of their global AUM, the vast majority of respondents have less than 1% invested in China A shares, while a significant minority have between 1% and 10%. Very few have more than 10% of their funds invested in China domestic listings, although interestingly a few have more than 50%. The latter would be smaller investment managers with a dedicated China focus, as shown in Figure 1.11.

The picture changes markedly when overseas-listed Chinese firms are taken into account: the majority of foreign respondents allocate between 1% to 10% of their global AUM to such companies and a sizeable proportion, about one-fifth, invest more than 10%.

 

 

How do foreign investors invest in China? As Figure 1.12 below shows, around a quarter go only through the Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (QFII) scheme, 15% only through Stock Connect, and almost half through both channels. Interestingly, a significant minority invest directly through wholly owned foreign enterprises (WFOEs) or other foreign direct investment (FDI) channels.

 

China respondents

Most respondents to our China Listed Company Perceptions Survey work for a company that has been listed for more than five years. Around 40% of the companies have been listed for more than 10 years, which is a relatively long period given that the Chinese stock market is still less than 30 years old (see Figure 1.13).

The market cap of 54% of respondents’ companies was more than Rmb5 billion, as highlighted in Figure 1.14, and 19% have a market cap of more than Rmb10 billion. Generally, the larger firms are likely to be SOEs.

 

In terms of ownership, the distribution of respondents falls evenly between SOEs and POEs, with 13% being of a “mixed-ownership” type (see Figure 1.15, above). This gives us confidence that the survey results incorporate a range of views from different participants in the Chinese market.

As for where respondents’ companies are listed, Figures 1.16 and 1.17, below, highlight that almost 60% are listed in a single jurisdiction. Mainland China comes first, not surprisingly, followed by a reasonable number in Hong Kong. Only a few respondents work for Chinese companies listed in Singapore, the US and the UK. Regarding the remaining companies listed in more than one jurisdiction, again the most popular venue is a dual-listing in China and Hong Kong, followed by a listing in China and the US. Some companies have a listing in China, Hong Kong and the US.

 

 

 

The complete report, in both English and Chinese, is available here.

___________________________________________________________

*Jamie Allen is Secretary General and Li Rui (Nana Li) is Senior Research Analyst at the Asian Corporate Governance Association (ACGA). This post is based on the introduction to their ACGA report.

Top 10 de Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance au 23 août 2018


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance corporative au 23 août 2018.

Comme à l’habitude, j’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Bonne lecture !

 

 

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  1. Corporate Governance; Stakeholder Primacy; Federal Incorporation
  2. Microcap Board Governance
  3. Taking Stock: Share Buybacks and Shareholder Value
  4. Shareholder Vote on Golden Parachutes: Determinants and Consequences
  5. Corporate Governance—The New Paradigm: A Better Way Than Federalization
  6. Board Diversity Developments
  7. Corporate Governance in Emerging Markets
  8. Dual-Class Index Exclusion
  9. Board Diversity, Firm Risk, and Corporate Policies
  10. Shareholder Activism: Evolving Tactics

L’objectif visé par les fonds d’investissement activistes afin de profiter au maximum de leurs interventions : la vente de l’entreprise au plus offrant !


Vous trouverez, ci-dessous, un article de Roger L. Martinex-doyen de la Rotman School of Management de l’Université de Toronto, paru dans Harvard Business Review le 20 août 2018, qui remet en question la valeur des interventions des fonds activistes au cours des dernières années.

L’auteur pourfend les prétendus bénéfices des campagnes orchestrées par les fonds activistes en s’appuyant notamment sur une étude d’Allaire qui procure des données statistiques probantes sur les rendements des fonds activistes.

Ainsi, l’étude publiée par Allaire montre que les fonds d’investissement activistes réalisent des rendements moyens de 12,4 %, comparés à 13,5 % pour le S&P 500. Le rendement était de 13,9 % pour des firmes de tailles similaires dans les mêmes secteurs industriels.

Je vous invite à prendre connaissance d’une présentation PPT du professeur Allaire qui présente des résultats empiriques très convaincants : Hedge Fund Activism : Some empirical evidence.

Le résultat qui importe, et qui est très payant, pour les investisseurs activistes est la réalisation de la vente de l’entreprise ciblée afin de toucher la prime de contrôle qui est de l’ordre de 30 %.

The reason investors keep giving their money to these hedge funds is simple. There is gold for activist hedge funds if they can accomplish one thing. If they can get their target sold, the compound annual TSR jumps from a lackluster 12,4 % to a stupendous 94,3 %.  That is why they so frequently agitate for the sale of their victim.

Bonne lecture. Vos commentaires sont les bienvenus.

 

Activist Hedge Funds Aren’t Good for Companies or Investors, So Why Do They Exist?

 

 

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Activist hedge funds have become capital market and financial media darlings. The Economist famously called them“capitalism’s unlikely heroes” in a cover story, and the FT published an article saying we “should welcome” them.

But they are utterly reviled by CEOs. And at best, their performance is ambiguous.

The most comprehensive study of activist hedge fund performance that I have read is by Yvan Allaire at the Institute for Governance of Private and Public Organizations in Montreal, which studies hedge fund campaigns against U.S. companies for an eight-year period (2005–2013).

Total shareholder return is what the activist hedge funds claim to enhance. But for the universe of U.S. activist hedge fund investments Allaire studied, the mean compound annual TSR for the activists was 12.4% while for the S&P500 it was 13.5% and for a random sample of firms of similar size in like industries, it was 13.9%. That is to say, if you decided to invest money in a random sample of activist hedge funds, you would have earned 12.4% before paying the hedge fund 2% per year plus 20% of that 12.4% upside. If instead you would have invested in a Vanguard S&P500 index fund, you would have kept all but a tiny fraction of 13.5%.

Since the returns that they produce underwhelm, why do activist hedge funds exist? Why do investors keep giving them money? It is an important question because the Allaire data shows the truly sad and unfortunate outcomes for the companies after the hedge funds ride off into the sunset, after a median holding period of only 423 unpleasant days. Over this span, employee headcount gets reduced by an average of 12%, while R&D gets cut by more than half, and returns don’t change.

The reason investors keep giving their money to these hedge funds is simple. There is gold for activist hedge funds if they can accomplish one thing. If they can get their target sold, the compound annual TSR jumps from a lackluster 12.4% to a stupendous 94.3%.  That is why they so frequently agitate for the sale of their victim.

But why is this such a lucrative avenue? It is because of the control premium. When a S&P500-sized company gets sold, the average premium over the prevailing stock price that is paid for the right to take over that company is in excess of 30%. This is ironic, of course, because studies show the majority of acquisitions don’t earn the cost of capital for the buyer. It is a case of the triumph of hope over reality – which is not unusual. It is not dissimilar to what happens in the National Football League where the trade price for a future draft pick is typically higher than the trade price for an accomplished successful player. That is because the acquiring team dreams that the player it will pick in the draft will be more awesome than that player is likely to turn out to be. But hope springs eternal!

The activist hedge funds have their eyes focused laser-like on the control premium — which for the S&P 500, which has a market capitalization of $23 trillion, is conservatively a $7 trillion pie assuming a 30% control premium. To get a piece of that scrumptious pie, all they need to do is pressure their victim to put itself up for sale and they will have “created shareholder value.” Of course, on average, they will have destroyed shareholder value for the acquiring firm, but they couldn’t care less. They are long gone by that time; off to the next victim.

And they have lots of friends to help them access the control premium pie. Investment bankers want to help them do the deal whether it is a good deal or not and that $7 trillion pie for hedge funds translates into a multibillion dollar annual slice for investment bankers. And for the M&A lawyers that need to opine on the deal. And the accounting firms that need to audit the deal. And for the proxy voting firms that collect the votes for and against the deal. And the consultants who get hired to do post-merger integration. And the financial press that gets to write stories about an exciting deal.

It is an entire ecosystem that sees the $7 trillion pie and wants a piece of it. It doesn’t matter a whit whether a hedge-fund inspired change of control is a good thing for customers, employees or the combined shareholders involved (selling plus acquiring). It is too lucrative a pie to pass up.

What will stop this lunacy? When shareholders come to their senses and realize that when an activist hedge fund has pressured a company intensively enough to put it up for sale, they are simply feeding the hedge fund beast and the vast majority of the time it will be at their own expense. When activist hedge funds’ access to the $7 trillion pie is shut off, they will have to rely on their ability to actually make their victims perform better. And their track record on that front is mediocre at best.

______________________________________________________________

Roger L. Martin is the director of the Martin Prosperity Institute and a former . He is a coauthor of Creating Great Choices: A Leader’s Guide to Integrative Thinking.

Top 10 de Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance au 16 août 2018


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance corporative au 16 août 2018.

Comme à l’habitude, j’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Bonne lecture !

 

 

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  1. SEC Concept Release on Compensatory Offerings
  2. Shedding the Status of Bank Holding Company
  3. Proposed Amendments to SEC’s Whistleblower Program
  4. Women in the C-Suite: The Next Frontier in Gender Diversity
  5. Director Skill Sets
  6. FCPA Successor Liability
  7. Urban Vibrancy and Firm Value Creation
  8. Self-Dealing Without a Controller
  9. The Misplaced Focus of the ISS Policy on NOL Poison Pills
  10. New Amendments to Delaware General Corporation Law

La place des femmes sur les CA et dans la haute direction des entreprises


Voici un rapport qui fait le point sur la place des femmes dans les CA et dans des postes de haute direction des entreprises publiques (cotées) américaines et internationales.

Cet article, publié par Subodh Mishra* directeur de Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), est paru sur le forum du Harvad Law School on Corporate Governance, le 13 août 2018.

On note des progrès dans tous les domaines, mais l’évolution est encore trop lente. Eu égard à la présence des femmes sur les CA des grandes entreprises cotées, c’est la France qui remporte la palme avec 43 % de femmes sur les CA.

Les entreprises se dotent de plus en plus de politique de divulgation de la diversité sur les postes de haute direction. Le Danemark (96 %), l’Australie (91 %) et le R.U. (84 %) sont en tête de liste en ce qui concerne la présence de politique à cet égard. Les É.U. (32 %) et la Russie (22 %) ferment la marche. Le Canada est en milieu de peloton avec 63 %.

L’infographie présentée ici montre clairement les tendances dans ce domaine.

L’auteur identifie les cinq pratiques émergentes les plus significatives pour mettre en œuvre une politique de diversité exemplaire.

(1) Address subtle or unconscious bias.

Cultivating a strong culture free of subtle or unconscious bias is a fundamental step towards an inclusive work environment. A meta-analysis by the Harvard Business Review finds that subtle discrimination has as negative effects, if not more negative, than overt discrimination, as it can drain emotional and cognitive resources, it can accumulate quickly, and is difficult to address through legal recourse. The researchers suggest that structured processes and procedures around hiring, assignments, and business decisions limit the opportunity for unconscious bias to creep in. In addition, they suggest training programs and practicing techniques, such as mindfulness, to reduce bias.

(2) Establish clear diversity targets and measure progress towards goals.

Most companies with gender diversity strategies set clear, measurable targets. BP has set a goal of women representing at least 25 percent of its group leaders by 2020, while Symantecaims at having 30 percent of leadership roles occupied by women by the same year. This approach allows firms to focus on concrete performance results, while also creating a framework of accountability in the company’s gender diversity and inclusion program.

(3) Focus on key roles and redefine the path to leadership.

True meritocracy should determine the criteria for leadership roles. However, companies should recognize that there may be multiple paths to the CEO position, and should focus on their efforts on roles that lead to those paths. Women CEOs Speak, A Korn Ferry Institute study supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, identifies four different career approaches for women to prepare for the CEO role. However, the study identifies early assumption of profit-and-loss responsibilities in all four paths as a crucial experience leading to top positions.

(4) Establish mentorship and sponsorship programs.

Training and development programs within the organization can help facilitate mentorships and sponsorships, which are crucial in career development. GM’s Diversity and Inclusion Report explains how its Executive Leadership Program aims at creating a support network of female leaders, as well as training and development sessions hosted by female executives. Mentors can support employees earlier in their career with coaching and advice, while sponsors take a more active role later in one’s career to promote the individual. Gender should obviously not constitute a barrier for such mentorships and sponsorships, and organizations should take active steps to encourage such relationships across genders and remove any hesitations or biases.

(5) Provide flexibility and support towards work-life balance.

Top executive assignments often involve significant time commitments and travel that can impact an executive’s family life. In a New York Times news analysis, former McDonald’s executive Janice Fields, identified her choice not to work overseas as a handicap to becoming the CEO. Making accommodations in relation family, including both children and spouses, can remove some significant hurdles for women.

 

 

Women in the C-Suite: The Next Frontier in Gender Diversity

 

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Despite recent advances in female board participation globally, gender diversity among top executives remains disappointingly low across all markets, with some improvement discerned in the past few years. Moreover, there does not appear a correlation between board gender diversity and gender diversity in the C-Suite at the market level. Some of the markets that have implemented gender quotas on boards and have achieved the highest rates of female board participation, such as France, Sweden, and Germany, appear to have embarrassingly low rates of female top executives. In fact, many of the markets with progressive board diversity policies have lower gender diversity levels in executive positions compared to several emerging markets like South Africa, Singapore, and Thailand. Thus, achieving higher rates of gender diversity in the C-Suite will require deeper cultural shifts within organizations in order to overcome potential biases and hurdles to gender equality.

The number of female top executives remains low

 

In the past decade, gender quotas, policy initiatives, and—more recently—investor pressure have led to boards improving female board participation in Europe and North America significantly. The percentage of female directors in the Russell 3000 increased from 10 percent in 2008 to 18 percent in 2018, with most of the increase taking place since 2013. Similarly, the percentage of female directors in ISS’s core universe of widely-held European firms more than tripled from 8 percent in 2008 to 27 percent in 2018. While the recent push by policymakers, investors, and advocacy groups for greater gender diversity has primarily focused on board positions, the discussion is beginning to evolve to encompass diversity in all leadership roles, including top management. In the United States, we have observed small but significant changes in the gender composition of the C-Suite over the past five years. Since 2012, the Russell 3000 has seen a 70-percent increase in the number of female CEOs. Despite the relative increase, the number of top female executives remains disappointingly low, with only 5 percent of Russell 3000 companies having a female CEO in 2018.

 

Companies need to develop the pipeline of female executive leaders

 

The scarcity of female CEOs does not appear surprising, especially after taking a closer look at the rest of the members of the C-Suite, who often comprise the primary candidates in line for succession for the top job. These roles include the Chief Operating Officer, the Chief Financial Officer, and the Head of Sales, among others. Only 9 percent of top executive positions in the Russell 3000 are filled by women, which means that companies have a long way to go towards building gender equity within the top ranks where the next generation of CEOs are cultivated. Certain sectors lag considerably more than others, with Real Estate, Telecommunications and Energy exhibiting the lowest rates of female named executive officers.

 

Within the C-Suite, gender differentiation persists in terms of executive roles

 

The picture seems even bleaker for the future of gender parity at the CEO level when examining the types of roles that female top executives currently occupy within their organizations. Female executives appear scarcer at roles with profit-and-loss responsibilities that often serve as stepping stones to the CEO role, such as COO, Head of Sales, or CEOs of business units and subsidiary groups. Meanwhile, women are more highly concentrated in positions that rarely see a promotion to the top job, such as Human Resources Officer, General Counsel, and Chief Administrative Officer.

 

 

Not surprisingly, and in conjunction with the disparity in functions described above, women who belong to the group of the five highest paid executive officers in their organization, are far more likely to rank fourth or fifth in pay rank compared to their male counterparts. Approximately 46 percent of women in the top five positions rank either fourth or fifth in pay, compared to 33 percent of male top five executives in these pay rankings.

 

Breaking down barriers to gender diversity in the C-Suite

 

Companies can take a number steps to foster gender diversity in their executive leadership, and to remove biases or potential obstacles to an inclusive management environment. Many companies have identified gender diversity in leadership positions as a key priority, and have established gender diversity strategies to achieve specific goals. While workforce diversity policies appear to become the standard across most markets, gender diversity policies at the senior management level are common only in some markets. According to ISS Environmental & Social QualityScore data, the majority of companies in developed European markets and Canada disclose gender diversity policies for senior managers. The practice has not been widely established United States, where 32 percent of the S&P 500 and only 4 percent of the remaining Russell 3000 disclose such policies.

 

 

Several companies and advocacy groups identify gender diversity and inclusion as a major driver for talent acquisition and performance. The recognition of the absence of women in top executive roles has sparked several initiatives that seek to promote inclusivity in the workplace. The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100×25 advocacy initiative aims at bringing more women to the C-Suite, with the explicit goal of having 100 Fortune 500 female CEOs by 2025. Meanwhile, Paradigm for Parity was formed by a coalition of business leaders (CEOs, founders, and board members), and set the goal of achieving full gender parity by 2030. The group has created a 5-point action plan to help companies accelerate their progress.

Based on the work of these initiatives and actual programs disclosed by companies, we identify five of the emerging best practices that companies adopt to address gender diversity in leadership roles.

Address subtle or unconscious bias. Cultivating a strong culture free of subtle or unconscious bias is a fundamental step towards an inclusive work environment. A meta-analysis by the Harvard Business Review finds that subtle discrimination has as negative effects, if not more negative, than overt discrimination, as it can drain emotional and cognitive resources, it can accumulate quickly, and is difficult to address through legal recourse. The researchers suggest that structured processes and procedures around hiring, assignments, and business decisions limit the opportunity for unconscious bias to creep in. In addition, they suggest training programs and practicing techniques, such as mindfulness, to reduce bias.

Establish clear diversity targets and measure progress towards goals. Most companies with gender diversity strategies set clear, measurable targets. BP has set a goal of women representing at least 25 percent of its group leaders by 2020, while Symantecaims at having 30 percent of leadership roles occupied by women by the same year. This approach allows firms to focus on concrete performance results, while also creating a framework of accountability in the company’s gender diversity and inclusion program.

Focus on key roles and redefine the path to leadership. True meritocracy should determine the criteria for leadership roles. However, companies should recognize that there may be multiple paths to the CEO position, and should focus on their efforts on roles that lead to those paths. Women CEOs Speak, A Korn Ferry Institute study supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, identifies four different career approaches for women to prepare for the CEO role. However, the study identifies early assumption of profit-and-loss responsibilities in all four paths as a crucial experience leading to top positions.

Establish mentorship and sponsorship programs. Training and development programs within the organization can help facilitate mentorships and sponsorships, which are crucial in career development. GM’s Diversity and Inclusion Report explains how its Executive Leadership Program aims at creating a support network of female leaders, as well as training and development sessions hosted by female executives. Mentors can support employees earlier in their career with coaching and advice, while sponsors take a more active role later in one’s career to promote the individual. Gender should obviously not constitute a barrier for such mentorships and sponsorships, and organizations should take active steps to encourage such relationships across genders and remove any hesitations or biases.

Provide flexibility and support towards work-life balance. Top executive assignments often involve significant time commitments and travel that can impact an executive’s family life. In a New York Times news analysis, former McDonald’s executive Janice Fields, identified her choice not to work overseas as a handicap to becoming the CEO. Making accommodations in relation family, including both children and spouses, can remove some significant hurdles for women.

_________________________________________________________________

*Subodh Mishra is Executive Director at Institutional Shareholder Services, Inc. This post is based on an ISS Analytics publication by Kosmas Papadopoulos, Managing Editor at ISS Analytics.

Top 10 de Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance au 9 août 2018


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance corporative au 9 août 2018.

Comme à l’habitude, j’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Bonne lecture !

 

 

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Top 10 de Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance au 2 août 2018


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance corporative au 2 août 2018.

Comme à l’habitude, j’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Bonne lecture !

 

 

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