Compte rendu des activités des actionnaires activistes en 2019


Aujourd’hui, je porte à votre attention une excellente publication de Jim Rossman*, directeur du conseil aux actionnaires, Kathryn Hembree Night, directrice, et Quinn Pitcher, analyste de la firme Lazard, qui présente une revue complète des actionnaires activistes.

Cette étude fait état de l’évolution des activistes en 2019, elle dégage les principales observations des auteurs :

    1. L’activité militante reprend sa tendance pluriannuelle après un record en 2018 ;
    2.  La progression constante de l’activisme en dehors des États-Unis ;
    3. Le nombre record de campagnes liées aux fusions et acquisitions ;
    4. L’influence des activistes sur les conseils d’administration se poursuit,
    5. Les pressions sur les gestionnaires actifs s’intensifient.
    6. Autres observations importantes, dont les suivantes :
    • L’accent ESG continue de croître : au cours des deux dernières années, l’actif géré représenté par les signataires des Principes pour l’investissement responsable des Nations Unies a augmenté de 26 % à 86 milliards de dollars, et le nombre d’actifs dans les FNB liés à l’ESG a augmenté de 300 %.
    • La « Déclaration sur l’objet de la société » de la table ronde des entreprises a souligné l’importance pour les entreprises d’intégrer les intérêts de toutes les parties prenantes, et pas seulement des actionnaires, dans leurs processus décisionnels.
    • Les directives de la SEC sur les conseillers en vote ont cherché à accroître les normes de responsabilité et de surveillance dans les évaluations de leur entreprise.

La publication utilise une infographie très efficace pour illustrer les effets de l’activisme aux États-Unis, mais aussi à l’échelle internationale.

Bonne lecture !

2019 Review of Shareholder Activism

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « activités des actionnaires activistes en 2019 »

Key Observations on the Activist Environment in 2019

1.  Activist Activity Returns to Multi-Year Trend After Record 2018

187 companies targeted by activists, down 17% from 2018’s record but in line with multi-year average levels

Aggregate capital deployed by activists (~$42bn) reflected a similar dip relative to the ~$60bn+ level of 2017/2018

A record 147 investors launched new campaigns in 2019, including 43 “first timers” with no prior activism history

Elliott and Starboard remained the leading activists, accounting for more than 10% of global campaign activity

 2. Activism’s Continued Influence Outside the U.S.

Activism against non-U.S. targets accounted for ~40% of 2019 activity, up from ~30% in 2015

Multi-year shift driven both by a decline in S. targets and an uptick in activity in Japan and Europe

For the first time, Japan was the most-targeted non-U.S. jurisdiction, with 19 campaigns and $4.5bn in capital deployed in 2019 (both local records)

Overall European activity decreased in 2019 (48 campaigns, down from a record 57 in 2018), driven primarily by 10 fewer campaigns in the K.

Expanded activity in continental Europe—particularly France, Germany and Switzerland—partially offset this decline

3. Record Number of M&A-Related Campaigns

A record 99 campaigns with an M&A-related thesis (accounting for ~47% of all 2019 activity, up from ~35% in prior years) were launched in 2019

As in prior years, there were numerous prominent examples of activists pushing a sale (HP, Caesars) or break-up (Marathon, Sony) or opposing an announced transaction (Occidental, Bristol-Myers Squibb)

The $24.1bn of capital deployed in M&A-related campaigns in 2019 represented ~60% of total capital deployed

The technology sector alone saw $7.0bn put to use in M&A related campaigns

4. Activist Influence on Boards Continues

122 Board seats were won by activists in 2019, in line with the multi-year average [1]

Consistent with recent trends, the majority of Board seats were secured via negotiated settlements (~85% of Board seats)

20% of activist Board seats went to female directors, compared to a rate of 46% for all new S&P 500 director appointees [2]

Activists nominated a record 20 “long slates” seeking to replace a majority of directors in 2019, securing seats in two-thirds (67%) of the situations that have been resolved

5. Outflow Pressure on  Active Managers Intensifies

Actively managed funds saw ~$176bn in net outflows through Q3 2019, compared to ~$105bn in 2018 over the same period

The “Big 3” index funds (BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street) continue to be the primary beneficiaries of passive inflows, collectively owning ~19% of the S&P 500—up from ~16% in 2014

6. Other Noteworthy Observations

ESG focus continues to grow: over the past two years, the AUM represented by signatories to the UN’s Principles for Responsible Investment increased ~26% to ~$86tn, and the number of assets in ESG-related ETFs increased ~300%

The Business Roundtable’s “Statement on the Purpose of the Corporation” emphasized the importance of companies incorporating the interests of all stakeholders, not just shareholders, into their decision-making processes

The SEC’s guidance on proxy advisors sought to increase accountability and oversight standards in their company evaluations

Source:    FactSet, ETFLogic, UN PRI, Simfund, press reports and public filings as of 12/31/2019.
Note: All data is for campaigns conducted globally by activists at companies with market capitalizations greater than $500 million at time of campaign announcement.

               

The complete publication, including Appendix, is available here.

Endnotes

1Represents Board seats won by activists in the respective year, regardless of the year in which the campaign was initiated. (go back)

2According to Spencer Stuart’s 2019 Board Index.(go back)


Jim Rossman* est directeur du conseil aux actionnaires, Kathryn Hembree Night est directrice et Quinn Pitcher est analyste chez Lazard. Cet article est basé sur une publication Lazard. La recherche connexe du programme sur la gouvernance d’entreprise comprend les effets à long terme de l’activisme des fonds spéculatifs  par Lucian Bebchuk, Alon Brav et Wei Jiang (discuté sur le forum  ici ); Danse avec des militants  par Lucian Bebchuk, Alon Brav, Wei Jiang et Thomas Keusch (discuté sur le forum  ici ); et  qui saigne quand les loups mordent? A Flesh-and-Blood Perspective on Hedge Fund Activism and Our Strange Corporate Governance System  par Leo E. Strine, Jr.

Notre organisation doit-elle avoir une politique anti-fraternisation ? Considérations-clés


Récemment, j’ai lu un article vraiment intéressant qui traite d’une problématique très pertinente et concrète pour toutes les organisations.

Les auteurs Arthur H. Kohn* et al ont exploré les avantages et les inconvénients de l’établissement d’une politique anti-fraternisation, c’est-à-dire une politique régissant les relations personnelles étroites entre les employés.

Les auteurs font référence à une récente étude sur le sujet qui montre que 35 à 40 % des employés ont eu une relation romantique consensuelle avec un collègue, et 72 % le feraient à nouveau ! Plus particulièrement, 22 % des employés ont déclaré être sortis avec une personne qui les supervisait.

Dans ce billet, je reproduis la traduction française de l’article paru sur le site de Harvard Law School on Corporate Governance. Je suis bien conscient que cette version n’est pas optimale, mais, selon moi, elle est tout à fait convenable.

À la lecture de ce billet, vous serez en mesure de vous poser les bonnes questions eu égard à l’instauration d’une telle politique de RH. Plus précisément, vous aurez de bons arguments pour répondre à cette question : mon entreprise doit-elle avoir une politique anti-fraternisation ?

Bonne lecture ! Vos commentaires sont les bienvenus.

 

Politiques anti-fraternisation des entreprises : considérations clés

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « politique régissant les relations personnelles étroites entre les employés. »

 

Ces dernières années, de nombreux cadres supérieurs ont démissionné ou ont été licenciés pour avoir noué des relations consensuelles non divulguées avec des subordonnés. [1] Ces relations font l’objet d’une attention particulière à la suite de l’examen approfondi du comportement sur le lieu de travail, car elles suscitent des inquiétudes concernant, entre autres, les éventuels déséquilibres de pouvoir et les conflits d’intérêts sur le lieu de travail. Ainsi, il est de plus en plus important pour les entreprises de réfléchir à l’opportunité d’instituer des politiques régissant les relations personnelles étroites et à quoi pourraient ressembler ces politiques. Nous abordons quelques considérations clés pour guider ces décisions.

Mon entreprise doit-elle avoir une politique anti-fraternisation ?

 

Le pourcentage d’entreprises qui ont instauré des politiques concernant les relations personnelles étroites sur le lieu de travail est décidément à la hausse. [2] Certaines entreprises ont des politiques régissant les relations personnelles étroites entre tous les employés, tandis que d’autres politiques se limitent aux relations entre les superviseurs et les subordonnés. Ces derniers types de politiques sont au centre de cette publication (et nous les désignerons, en bref, comme des politiques « anti-fraternisation »). L’an dernier, plus de la moitié des cadres RH interrogés ont déclaré que leur entreprise avait des politiques formelles et écrites concernant les relations personnelles étroites entre les employés, et 78 % ont déclaré que leur entreprise décourageait de telles relations entre les subordonnés et les superviseurs. [3]

Cependant, toutes les entreprises n’ont pas de politiques anti-fraternisation, et ces politiques présentent des avantages et des inconvénients. La manière dont ces avantages et inconvénients se comparent dépendra en grande partie des circonstances spécifiques de l’employeur, telles que sa culture, son expérience en matière de comportement au travail potentiellement inapproprié, sa taille et sa structure organisationnelle.

Côté « pro », adopter une politique anti-fraternisation…

 

      • Envoie un message contre le harcèlement sexuel : la préoccupation la plus évidente soulevée par les relations de travail entre les subordonnés et les superviseurs est que, à la lumière du déséquilibre inhérent au pouvoir, ces relations peuvent ne pas être, ou rester, consensuelles et bienvenues, malgré les apparences. Comme le mouvement #MeToo l’a mis en évidence, un subordonné peut ne pas se sentir à l’aise de dire « non » à un superviseur, plutôt d’acquiescer à la relation par crainte d’une action défavorable en matière d’emploi. Ainsi, ce qui peut sembler à première vue une relation bienvenue peut en fait constituer du harcèlement sexuel du point de vue du subordonné. L’instauration d’une politique portant sur de telles relations envoie un message aux employés — de toute ancienneté — que l’entreprise est consciente de ces risques et les prend suffisamment au sérieux pour agir de manière préventive.
      • Atténue le risque juridique : quand une relation prend fin, l’employeur peut avoir une exposition juridique dérivée pour la conduite des employés impliqués dans la relation, y compris si le subordonné prétend que la relation est le résultat d’une avance indésirable ou si un contact post-relationnel entre les individus est acrimonieux. L’interdiction de la relation devrait atténuer ce risque.
      • Évite certaines situations d’environnement de travail toxiques : une relation entre un superviseur et un subordonné augmente également le risque de favoritisme réel et/ou perçu. En cas de favoritisme réel, une telle conduite expose l’employeur à des allégations de discrimination ou de harcèlement sexuel sous la forme d’un environnement de travail hostile (par exemple, d’autres employés peuvent prétendre qu’une contrepartie est le seul moyen d’aller de l’avant). De plus, que le favoritisme soit réel ou perçu, il peut réduire la productivité des autres employés, qui peuvent avoir l’impression que leurs contributions passent inaperçues et peuvent ainsi se désengager. La productivité des deux employés impliqués dans la relation peut également en souffrir, dans la mesure où ils poursuivent la relation pendant les heures de travail.
      • Fournit aux employés un avis concernant les conséquences potentielles d’une relation de travail : les relations de travail peuvent être difficiles, même en l’absence de problème de fraternisation. Des relations personnelles étroites, en particulier entre des employés d’ancienneté variable, aggravent encore ces difficultés. Si une relation de travail a une incidence sur le rendement au travail des employés, elle peut entraîner la réaffectation — ou, dans certaines circonstances, la résiliation — de l’une ou des deux parties. Informer les employés de ces conséquences potentielles grâce à une politique officielle leur permet de prendre des décisions plus éclairées sur l’opportunité de poursuivre une relation de travail. Cela peut également réduire le risque de litiges futurs, en particulier dans les situations où la protection du travail est importante, comme dans les juridictions étrangères ou dans les lieux de travail syndiqués.
      • Donne aux employeurs une règle claire : lorsque les relations de travail se rompent et qu’un dysfonctionnement survient, les causes peuvent être contestées et légitimement obscures. L’employeur se retrouve souvent à gérer les retombées, y compris à devoir décider lequel des employés dans la relation devrait être réaffecté à un rôle différent ou se séparer de l’entreprise. Une politique anti-fraternisation peut fournir une règle de ligne claire utile.

Côté « con », une politique anti-fraternisation…

 

      • Peut créer une perception de paternalisme : les données d’une enquête récente suggèrent qu’environ 35 à 40 % des employés ont eu une relation romantique consensuelle avec un collègue, et 72 % le feraient à nouveau. [4]Plus particulièrement, 22 % des employés ont déclaré être sortis avec quelqu’un qui les supervisait. [5] Ainsi, les relations amoureuses se forment et s’épanouissent souvent sur le lieu de travail, et les efforts d’un employeur pour les décourager peuvent être perçus par les employés comme paternalistes et comme un empiétement sur leur vie personnelle. Cela est particulièrement probable pour une entreprise qui a une structure organisationnelle plus hiérarchisée avec de nombreux niveaux de superviseurs, car une grande partie de ses employés seraient affectés par une politique anti-fraternisation, même limitée aux relations personnelles étroites entre les superviseurs les subordonnés. Cela pourrait également être une préoccupation pour les cultures de travail moins formelles, dans lesquelles l’aspect paternaliste de la politique pourrait être particulièrement difficile à l’encontre de la culture globale.
      • Requiert une appréciation difficile : définir ce qui constitue une relation personnelle étroite sur le lieu de travail n’est pas une tâche facile. Cela nécessite de porter des jugements sur des questions très subjectives et spécifiques aux faits. De plus, cela nécessite de s’attaquer à des sujets rarement abordés sur le lieu de travail. Il est essentiel d’avoir des professionnels des RH désireux et capables de répondre à ces questions pour une politique efficace.
      • Est difficile à « contrôler » : étant donné le caractère très privé du sujet, l’instauration d’une politique anti-fraternisation soulève également des questions complexes sur les types de mesures qu’un employeur peut ou devrait prendre — à la fois d’un point de vue juridique et pratique — dans le suivi de la politique. Par exemple, les superviseurs doivent-ils certifier la conformité à la politique ? Comment les entreprises démontrent-elles aux parties prenantes que la politique est appliquée ? L’entreprise effectue-t-elle une surveillance de la conformité, par exemple en examinant les courriels ou les réseaux sociaux des superviseurs ?

Que doit dire la politique anti-fraternisation de mon entreprise ?

 

Si un employeur choisit d’instituer une politique anti-fraternisation, il existe un large éventail d’approches, notamment en ce qui concerne la portée des comportements interdits et les conséquences de s’engager dans des relations personnelles étroites.

Quelle conduite est interdite ?

 

À un extrême, l’employeur peut choisir d’interdire les relations entre tous les employés. L’employeur peut également choisir de limiter sa politique anti-fraternisation aux relations entre les employés d’ancienneté variable ou, plus précisément, entre les superviseurs et leurs subordonnés directs ou indirects. D’après notre expérience, l’interdiction des relations entre les superviseurs et leurs subordonnés directs ou indirects présente le meilleur équilibre de considérations pour la plupart des grandes entreprises.

Une approche viable pourrait consister à ce que la politique anti-fraternisation :

    1. décrive les préoccupations de l’employeur eu égard aux relations de travail (y compris les préoccupations discutées ci-dessus, ainsi que toutes les autres applicables au lieu de travail de l’employeur) ;
    2. exige des employés qu’ils signalent des relations personnelles étroites par le biais de canaux désignés (selon la culture de l’employeur et les circonstances spécifiques, une telle exigence de déclaration pourrait s’appliquer à tous les employés ou se limiter aux relations entre des employés d’ancienneté variable) ; et
    3. interdit les relations entre les superviseurs et leurs subordonnés directs (ou proches) (en gardant à l’esprit que chaque employé relève du PDG), et peut-être entre les employés dans certaines fonctions commerciales sensibles, telles que les finances, l’audit et le juridique, où une relation peut donner lieu à préoccupations particulièrement difficiles.

Instituer une obligation de déclaration peut, selon la culture d’entreprise, rassurer les employés plus jeunes quant au risque potentiel de harcèlement. Il peut également répondre à certaines des autres préoccupations évoquées ci-dessus, en permettant à l’employeur de surveiller les effets négatifs de la relation sur l’environnement de travail global et de fournir aux employés un avis plus détaillé des conséquences potentielles de la relation divulguée.

Qu’est-ce qui constitue une « relation personnelle étroite » ?

 

Comme indiqué ci-dessus, l’instauration d’une politique anti-fraternisation nécessite de naviguer dans certaines zones grises, notamment les types de relations qui devraient entrer dans le champ d’application de la politique. D’après notre expérience, la plupart des entreprises qui adoptent des politiques anti-fraternisation utilisent l’expression « relation personnelle étroite » pour décrire la conduite qui fait l’objet de la politique.

En raison de la nature hautement subjective et diversifiée des relations interpersonnelles, il est généralement difficile de trouver une approche « taille unique ». Ainsi, les employeurs peuvent choisir de laisser cela indéfini, ce qui incombe aux employés de déterminer si, dans les circonstances, leur relation entre dans le cadre de la politique de l’employeur. Une autre approche consiste à ce que la politique anti-fraternisation prévoie qu’une relation entre dans son champ d’application dans la mesure où elle a un impact subjectif ou objectif sur la performance au travail des employés dans la relation et/ou d’autres employés. Par exemple, la politique s’appliquerait si la relation crée des tensions entre les employés de la relation et les autres, ou si les employés de la relation ne s’acquittent pas de leurs responsabilités quotidiennes.

Plus important encore, la définition de la politique devrait être adaptée à la culture et à l’environnement de travail de l’employeur, et elle devrait également être flexible, compte tenu des circonstances variables dans lesquelles la politique peut être impliquée.

Quelles sont les obligations de déclaration et leurs implications ?

 

Si l’employeur établit des obligations de déclaration en ce qui concerne les relations personnelles étroites, ces obligations devraient être imposées au superviseur ou à un employé plus âgé dans la relation, afin d’atténuer les déséquilibres de pouvoir inhérents. Selon la situation particulière de l’employeur, le canal de communication peut être adressé à un chef d’entreprise ou à un représentant de l’équipe des ressources humaines.

La politique devrait également indiquer les mesures que l’employeur prendra, une fois la relation révélée, afin d’atténuer les préoccupations évoquées ci-dessus. Par exemple, l’employeur devrait envisager des mesures qui supprimeront la relation de supervision entre les employés, comme la réaffectation d’un ou des deux, et devrait également récuser le superviseur de toute décision liée à l’emploi ou à la performance concernant le subordonné. Il convient de veiller tout particulièrement à ce que les réaffectations ne soient pas mises en œuvre d’une manière qui puisse donner lieu à une plainte pour discrimination fondée sur le sexe contre l’employeur.

Conclusion

 

Il est essentiel que les employeurs acquièrent une compréhension nuancée des risques et des causes profondes des comportements potentiellement inappropriés sur leur lieu de travail, et développent des outils efficaces pour atténuer ces risques. Une politique anti-fraternisation peut servir d’outil de ce type, et les employeurs devraient évaluer les avantages et les inconvénients d’une telle politique dans le contexte des circonstances uniques de leur lieu de travail.


Notes de fin

Voir, par exemplecinq PDG qui ont été licenciés pour avoir fait la sale affaire avec leurs employés, Yahoo! News (4 novembre 2019), https://in.news.yahoo.com/five-ceos-were-fired-doing-082736254.html ; Don Clark, PDG d’Intel, Brian Krzanich démissionne après une relation avec un employé, NY Times (21 juin 2018), https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/21/technology/intel-ceo-resigns-consensual-relationship. html. Bien que les contrats de travail pour cadres n’incluent généralement pas de dispositions relatives aux relations personnelles étroites sur le lieu de travail, ils prévoient souvent qu’une violation de la politique ferme est un motif de licenciement motivé. (retourner)

Voir la mise à jour du sondage #MeToo : plus de la moitié des entreprises ont examiné les politiques sur le harcèlement sexuel, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. (10 juillet 2018), http://www.challengergray.com/press/press-releases/metoo- enquête-mise à jour-plus de demi-entreprises-révisées-politiques-de-harcèlement sexuel (« Challenger Survey ») (signalant des pourcentages accrus d’employeurs qui exigent que les employés divulguent des relations personnelles étroites, ainsi que d’employeurs qui découragent les relations entre un superviseur et un subordonné) ; voir également les résultats de l’enquête : Workplace Romance , Society for Human Resources Management (24 septembre 2013), https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/research-and-surveys/pages/shrm -workplace-romance-Findings.aspx(constatant que, alors qu’en 2005 seulement 25 % environ des employeurs américains avaient des politiques concernant les relations consensuelles, en 2013, ce nombre était passé à 42 %).(retourner)

Voir Challenger Survey, supra note 2.(retour)

Attention Cupidon Cupids : les résultats du sondage Office Romance 2019 sont arrivés !, Vault Careers (14 février 2019), https://www.vault.com/blogs/workplace-issues/2019-vault-office-romance-survey-results ; Office Romance atteint son plus bas niveau depuis 10 ans, selon l’enquête annuelle de la Saint-Valentin de CareerBuilder, CareerBuilder (1er février 2018) (« Enquête CareerBuilder »), http://press.careerbuilder.com/2018-02-01-Office-Romance — Hits-10-Year-Low-Selon-CareerBuilders-Annual-Valentines-Day-Survey. (retourner)

Voir le sondage CareerBuilder, supra note 4. (retour)


Arthur H. Kohn* et Jennifer Kennedy Park sont partenaires, et Armine Sanamyan est associée chez Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. Ce message est basé sur leur mémorandum Cleary.

La montée de l’activisme des stakeholders : Défis et opportunités pour les administrateurs de sociétés


Voici un excellent article de James E. Langston*, associé de la firme Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, sur les nouvelles perspectives offertes par les activités activistes de tout ordre. Cet article a paru sur le site de Harvard Law School on Corporate Governance.

Les points saillants exposés par l’auteur dans cet article sont les suivants :

    • Les activités activistes sont moins orientées vers le profit à court terme ; les investisseurs sont toujours préoccupés par les résultats à court terme, mais ils adoptent également une vision de plus en plus à long terme ;
    • On observe la montée d’une nouvelle forme d’activisme : l’activisme des parties prenantes (stakeholders), ou activisme social, qui emprunte aux méthodes de l’activisme traditionnel pour avancer leurs causes. On parle ici des fonds de pension, des gestionnaires d’actifs et des organisations à but charitables ;
    • Également, on note l’accroissement des activités d’activisme uniquement à long terme. Ces parties prenantes exercent de plus en plus de pression activiste auprès des administrateurs des CA ;
    • Dans le cas des très grandes entreprises, les conseils d’administration et les directions générales sont plus ouverts à des arrangements de gré à gré pour effectuer les changements réclamés par les activistes. Cependant, cette pause dans les relations entre ces deux entités n’est pas une garantie qu’elle ne sera pas suivie de nouvelles demandes toujours plus contraignantes pour les sociétés ;
    • Enfin, le développement de l’activisme continue de prendre de l’ampleur dans les marchés internationaux, en adoptant le modèle et les manières de faire des activistes américains ;

Les auteurs incitent les conseils d’administration à être très vigilants dans l’évaluation des nouveaux risques de gouvernance ainsi que dans la prise en compte des nouvelles occasions qui se présentent.

En tant qu’administrateur, je vous invite à lire cet article pour vous sensibiliser à la nouvelle donne.

Bonne lecture !

Shareholder Activism in 2020: New Risks and Opportunities for Boards

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « stakeholders activistes »

 

The era of stakeholder governance and corporations with a purpose beyond profits is taking hold, with corporate directors expected to answer to more constituencies and shoulder a greater burden than ever before. At the same time, investors—both in the US and abroad—continue to expect corporations to deliver superior financial performance over both the short and long term.

This convergence of purpose and performance will not only shape discussions in the boardroom, but also the complexion of shareholder activism. As the nature of the activist threat has evolved it has created additional obstacles for directors to navigate. But at the same time, this environment has created additional opportunities for boards to level the activist playing field and lead investors and other stakeholders into this new era.

Environmental, Social and Corporate Activism

Today, shareholder activists and governance gadflies are not the only constituencies using the corporate machinery to advocate for change. Social activists and institutional investors are increasingly joining forces and borrowing tactics from the shareholder activist playbook, particularly as they push for ESG reforms. For example, in 2019, prominent pension funds, asset managers and other charitable organizations sent a joint letter to all Fortune 500 companies calling for greater disclosure of mid-level worker pay practices. In addition, the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility—on behalf of over 100 investors—spearheaded the submission of more than 10 shareholder proposals focusing on environmental and labor issues for the annual meeting of a single corporation.

We expect this type of stakeholder activism—or the convergence of shareholder activism and social activism—to continue and eventually move beyond the ESG realm. Although this marks yet another trend that boards must be prepared to face, it also offers directors an opportunity to embrace stakeholder interests other than EPS accretion or margin expansion to support the company’s governance profile and long-term strategic plan. To be sure, financial performance of the corporation over the long term, which benefits all stakeholders, will remain paramount, but focusing on the merits of the strategic plan for all stakeholders should help the board ensure management has sufficient runway to implement that plan and garner the support of more, rather than fewer, corporate constituencies along the way.

Long-Only Activism

At the same time, activism by traditional long-only investors also has increased. For example, Neuberger Berman pushed for board refreshment at Ashland Global as part of a Cruiser Capital-led campaign and launched a short-slate proxy contest at Verint Systems that settled when the company agreed to refresh its board and enhance its investor disclosures. Wellington Management also joined the fray, publicly backing—and by some accounts initiating—Starboard’s efforts to scuttle the Bristol Myers/Celgene merger. And T. Rowe Price doubled down on its activism efforts by publicly backing the Rice Brothers’ successful campaign to take control of the EQT board.

The takeaway for directors from this sort of activism is clear – no longer will institutional investors be content to sit on the sidelines or express their views privately. Directors should expect that increased long-only activism will create a challenging environment for active managers (including continued pressure on management fees) and will likely lead more of them to embrace activism, and to do so more publicly, as a way to differentiate their investment strategy.

The question for boards in this new environment is not just whether institutional investors will be a source of ideas for an activist or side with the board or the activist in the event of a campaign, but also whether its institutional investors are likely to themselves “go activist.” Shareholder engagement efforts will continue to be crucial in building support for a strategic plan and counteracting activist tendencies among long-only investors. But in the course of such efforts, directors must be mindful of the fact that not all institutional investors will have the same objectives and be careful to structure their interactions with investors accordingly. Well-advised boards will look for ways to find common ground with long-only investors while articulating the company’s long-term strategy in a manner that emphasizes its corporate purpose and is more likely to resonate with all stakeholders.

Large-Cap Activism and Settlement Agreements

Another trend boards must be aware of in 2020 is the success of certain brand-name activists in “settling” large-cap campaigns without committing to a settlement agreement with a standstill undertaking. Typically, a standstill, preventing the activist from exerting pressure on the company for a certain period of time, is the price the activist pays for the company committing to take certain of the steps proposed by the activist. The standstill is intended to ensure that the company has the breathing room necessary to implement the agreed-upon changes and make its case to investors.

However, several recent large-cap activist situations followed a different script. The companies engaged with the activists and announced a series of changes designed to appease the activist, ranging from purported governance and operational enhancements to full-blown strategic reviews. The activist then issued a separate, choreographed press release, often taking much of the credit for the changes and promising to work with the company to bring about the proposed changes. But that was it—there was no settlement agreement or other commitment by the activist to cease its efforts to influence the board.

Not surprisingly, in at least one of these situations, the company “settled” with an activist without a standstill only to face additional demands from the same activist several months later (and which required additional concessions). As always, the terms of peace with an activist will be shaped by the situational dynamics, but as 2020 dawns, directors should continue to be mindful of the benefits of a standstill.

Activism Abroad

Shareholder activism also continues to expand globally. Boards in Europe and Asia are increasingly finding themselves under pressure from activists. In these situations, boards have faced not only home-grown activists, but also US activists looking to expand their influence and investor base abroad.

We expect this trend to accelerate in 2020 for several reasons:

    • The number of easy activist targets in the US has dwindled.
    • US-based index funds continue to consolidate their ownership of public companies across the globe.
    • Foreign investors are becoming more prone to expect US-style capital allocation policies and shareholder return metrics from non-US companies.

The message to non-US boards is clear: If you aren’t thinking about activism, you should be. This doesn’t mean foreign issuers should reflexively adopt US practices; they shouldn’t. But it does mean that non-US boards should ensure they are prepared to deal with an activist event and consider a strategy that not only takes into account local conditions but also is informed by the relevant lessons from the US experience with shareholder activism.


*James E. Langston is partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. This post is based on his Cleary memorandum. Related research from the Program on Corporate Governance includes The Long-Term Effects of Hedge Fund Activism by Lucian Bebchuk, Alon Brav, and Wei Jiang (discussed on the Forum here); Who Bleeds When the Wolves Bite? A Flesh-and-Blood Perspective on Hedge Fund Activism and Our Strange Corporate Governance System by Leo E. Strine, Jr. (discussed on the Forum here); Dancing with Activists by Lucian Bebchuk, Alon Brav, Wei Jiang, and Thomas Keusch (discussed on the Forum here); and Social Responsibility Resolutions by Scott Hirst (discussed on the Forum here).

Gouvernance fiduciaire et rôles des parties prenantes (stakeholders) | En reprise


Je partage avec vous l’excellente prise de position de Martin Lipton *, Karessa L. Cain et Kathleen C. Iannone, associés de la firme Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, spécialisée dans les fusions et acquisitions et dans les questions de gouvernance fiduciaire.

L’article présente un plaidoyer éloquent en faveur d’une gouvernance fiduciaire par un conseil d’administration qui doit non seulement considérer le point de vue des actionnaires, mais aussi des autres parties prenantes,

Depuis quelque temps, on assiste à des changements significatifs dans la compréhension du rôle des CA et dans l’interprétation que les administrateurs se font de la valeur de l’entreprise à long terme.

Récemment, le Business Roundtable a annoncé son engagement envers l’inclusion des parties prenantes dans le cadre de gouvernance fiduciaire des sociétés.

Voici un résumé d’un article paru dans le Los Angeles Times du 19 août 2019 : In shocking reversal, Big Business puts the shareholder value myth in the grave.

Among the developments followers of business ethics may have thought they’d never see, the end of the shareholder value myth has to rank very high.

Yet one of America’s leading business lobbying groups just buried the myth. “We share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders,” reads a statement issued Monday by the Business Roundtable and signed by 181 CEOs. (Emphasis in the original.)

The statement mentions, in order, customers, employees, suppliers, communities and — dead last — shareholders. The corporate commitment to all these stakeholders may be largely rhetorical at the moment, but it’s hard to overstate what a reversal the statement represents from the business community’s preexisting viewpoint.

Stakeholders are pushing companies to wade into sensitive social and political issues — especially as they see governments failing to do so effectively.

Since the 1970s, the prevailing ethos of corporate management has been that a company’s prime responsibility — effectively, its only responsibility — is to serve its shareholders. Benefits for those other stakeholders follow, but they’re not the prime concern.

In the Business Roundtable’s view, the paramount duty of management and of boards of directors is to the corporation’s stockholders; the interests of other stakeholders are relevant as a derivative of the duty to stockholders,” the organization declared in 1997.

Bonne lecture. Vos commentaires sont les bienvenus !

 

Stakeholder Governance and the Fiduciary Duties of Directors

 

Jamie Dimon
JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon signed the business statement disavowing the shareholder value myth.(J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

 

There has recently been much debate and some confusion about a bedrock principle of corporate law—namely, the essence of the board’s fiduciary duty, and particularly the extent to which the board can or should or must consider the interests of other stakeholders besides shareholders.

For several decades, there has been a prevailing assumption among many CEOs, directors, scholars, investors, asset managers and others that the sole purpose of corporations is to maximize value for shareholders and, accordingly, that corporate decision-makers should be very closely tethered to the views and preferences of shareholders. This has created an opportunity for corporate raiders, activist hedge funds and others with short-termist agendas, who do not hesitate to assert their preferences and are often the most vocal of shareholder constituents. And, even outside the context of shareholder activism, the relentless pressure to produce shareholder value has all too often tipped the scales in favor of near-term stock price gains at the expense of long-term sustainability.

In recent years, however, there has been a growing sense of urgency around issues such as economic inequality, climate change and socioeconomic upheaval as human capital has been displaced by technological disruption. As long-term investors and the asset managers who represent them have sought to embrace ESG principles and their role as stewards of corporations in pursuit of long-term value, notions of shareholder primacy are being challenged. Thus, earlier this week, the Business Roundtable announced its commitment to stakeholder corporate governance, and outside the U.S., legislative reforms in the U.K. and Europe have expressly incorporated consideration of other stakeholder interests in the fiduciary duty framework. The Council of Institutional Investors and others, however, have challenged the wisdom and legality of stakeholder corporate governance.

To be clear, Delaware law does not enshrine a principle of shareholder primacy or preclude a board of directors from considering the interests of other stakeholders. Nor does the law of any other state. Although much attention has been given to the Revlon doctrine, which suggests that the board must attempt to achieve the highest value reasonably available to shareholders, that doctrine is narrowly limited to situations where the board has determined to sell control of the company and either all or a preponderant percentage of the consideration being paid is cash or the transaction will result in a controlling shareholder. Indeed, theRevlon doctrine has played an outsized role in fiduciary duty jurisprudence not because it articulates the ultimate nature and objective of the board’s fiduciary duty, but rather because most fiduciary duty litigation arises in the context of mergers or other extraordinary transactions where heightened standards of judicial review are applicable. In addition, Revlon’s emphasis on maximizing short-term shareholder value has served as a convenient touchstone for advocates of shareholder primacy and has accordingly been used as a talking point to shape assumptions about fiduciary duties even outside the sale-of-control context, a result that was not intended. Around the same time that Revlon was decided, the Delaware Supreme Court also decided the Unocal and Household cases, which affirmed the board’s ability to consider all stakeholders in using a poison pill to defend against a takeover—clearly confining Revlonto sale-of-control situations.

The fiduciary duty of the board is to promote the value of the corporation. In fulfilling that duty, directors must exercise their business judgment in considering and reconciling the interests of various stakeholders—including shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers, the environment and communities—and the attendant risks and opportunities for the corporation.

Indeed, the board’s ability to consider other stakeholder interests is not only uncontroversial—it is a matter of basic common sense and a fundamental component of both risk management and strategic planning. Corporations today must navigate a host of challenges to compete and succeed in a rapidly changing environment—for example, as climate change increases weather-related risks to production facilities or real property investments, or as employee training becomes critical to navigate rapidly evolving technology platforms. A board and management team that is myopically focused on stock price and other discernible benchmarks of shareholder value, without also taking a broader, more holistic view of the corporation and its longer-term strategy, sustainability and risk profile, is doing a disservice not only to employees, customers and other impacted stakeholders but also to shareholders and the corporation as a whole.

The board’s role in performing this balancing function is a central premise of the corporate structure. The board is empowered to serve as the arbiter of competing considerations, whereas shareholders have relatively limited voting rights and, in many instances, it is up to the board to decide whether a matter should be submitted for shareholder approval (for example, charter amendments and merger agreements). Moreover, in performing this balancing function, the board is protected by the business judgment rule and will not be second-guessed for embracing ESG principles or other stakeholder interests in order to enhance the long-term value of the corporation. Nor is there any debate about whether the board has the legal authority to reject an activist’s demand for short-term financial engineering on the grounds that the board, in its business judgment, has determined to pursue a strategy to create sustainable long-term value.

And yet even if, as a doctrinal matter, shareholder primacy does not define the contours of the board’s fiduciary duties so as to preclude consideration of other stakeholders, the practical reality is that the board’s ability to embrace ESG principles and sustainable investment strategies depends on the support of long-term investors and asset managers. Shareholders are the only corporate stakeholders who have the right to elect directors, and in contrast to courts, they do not decline to second-guess the business judgment of boards. Furthermore, a number of changes over the last several decades—including the remarkable consolidation of economic and voting power among a relatively small number of asset managers, as well as legal and “best practice” reforms—have strengthened the ability of shareholders to influence corporate decision-making.

To this end, we have proposed The New Paradigm, which conceives of corporate governance as a partnership among corporations, shareholders and other stakeholders to resist short-termism and embrace ESG principles in order to create sustainable, long-term value. See our paper, It’s Time to Adopt The New Paradigm.


Martin Lipton * is a founding partner of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, specializing in mergers and acquisitions and matters affecting corporate policy and strategy; Karessa L. Cain is a partner; and Kathleen C. Iannone is an associate. This post is based on their Wachtell Lipton publication.

Deux développements significatifs en gouvernance des sociétés | En rappel


Aujourd’hui, je veux porter à l’attention de mes lecteurs un article de Assaf Hamdani* et Sharon Hannes* qui aborde deux développements majeurs qui ont pour effet de bouleverser les marchés des capitaux.

D’une part, les auteurs constatent le rôle de plus en plus fondamental que les investisseurs institutionnels jouent sur le marché des capitaux aux É. U., mais aussi au Canada.

En effet, ceux-ci contrôlent environ les trois quarts du marché, et cette situation continue de progresser. Les auteurs notent qu’un petit nombre de fonds détiennent une partie significative du capital de chaque entreprise.

Les investisseurs individuels sont de moins en moins présents sur l’échiquier de l’actionnariat et leur influence est donc à peu près nulle.

Dans quelle mesure les investisseurs institutionnels exercent-ils leur influence sur la gouvernance des entreprises ? Quels sont les changements qui s’opèrent à cet égard ?

Comment leurs actions sont-elles coordonnées avec les actionnaires activistes (hedge funds) ?

La seconde tendance, qui se dessine depuis plus de 10 ans, concerne l’augmentation considérable de l’influence des actionnaires activistes (hedge funds) qui utilisent des moyens de pression de plus en plus grands pour imposer des changements à la gouvernance des organisations, notamment par la nomination d’administrateurs désignés aux CA des entreprises ciblées.

Quelles sont les nouvelles perspectives pour les activistes et comment les autorités réglementaires doivent-elles réagir face à la croissance des pressions pour modifier les conseils d’administration ?

Je vous invite à lire ce court article pour avoir un aperçu des changements à venir eu égard à la gouvernance des sociétés.

Bonne lecture !

 

The Future of Shareholder Activism

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « The Future of Shareholder Activism »

 

Two major developments are shaping modern capital markets. The first development is the dramatic increase in the size and influence of institutional investors, mostly mutual funds. Institutional investors today collectively own 70-80% of the entire U.S. capital market, and a small number of fund managers hold significant stakes at each public company. The second development is the rising influence of activist hedge funds, which use proxy fights and other tools to pressure public companies into making business and governance changes.

Our new article, The Future of Shareholder Activism, prepared for Boston University Law Review’s Symposium on Institutional Investor Activism in the 21st Century, focuses on the interaction of these two developments and its implications for the future of shareholder activism. We show that the rise of activist hedge funds and their dramatic impact question the claim that institutional investors have conflicts of interest that are sufficiently pervasive to have a substantial market-wide effect. We further argue that the rise of money managers’ power has already changed and will continue to change the nature of shareholder activism. Specifically, large money managers’ clout means that they can influence companies’ management without resorting to the aggressive tactics used by activist hedge funds. Finally, we argue that some activist interventions—those that require the appointment of activist directors to implement complex business changes—cannot be pursued by money managers without dramatic changes to their respective business models and regulatory landscapes.

We first address the overlooked implications of the rise of activist hedge funds for the debate on institutional investors’ stewardship incentives. The success of activist hedge funds, this Article argues, cannot be reconciled with the claim that institutional investors have conflicts of interest that are sufficiently pervasive to have a substantial market-wide effect. Activist hedge funds do not hold a sufficiently large number of shares to win proxy battles, and their success to drive corporate change therefore relies on the willingness of large fund managers to support their cause. Thus, one cannot celebrate—or express concern over—the achievements of activist hedge funds and at the same time argue that institutional investors systemically desire to appease managers.

But if money managers are the real power brokers, why do institutional investors not play a more proactive role in policing management? One set of answers to this question focuses on the shortcomings of fund managers—their suboptimal incentives to oversee companies in their portfolio and conflicts of interest. Another answer focuses on the regulatory regime that governs institutional investors and the impediments that it creates for shareholder activism.

We offer a more nuanced account of the interaction of activists and institutional investors. We argue that the rising influence of fund managers is shaping and is likely to shape the relationships among corporate insiders, institutional investors, and activist hedge funds. Institutional investors’ increasing clout allows them to influence companies without resorting to the aggressive tactics that are typical of activist hedge funds. With institutional investors holding the key to their continued service at the company, corporate insiders today are likely to be more attentive to the wishes of their institutional investors, especially the largest ones.

In fact, in today’s marketplace, management is encouraged to “think like an activist” and initiate contact with large fund managers to learn about any concerns that could trigger an activist attack. Institutional investors—especially the large ones—can thus affect corporations simply by sharing their views with management. This sheds new light on what is labeled today as “engagement.” Moreover, the line between institutional investors’ engagement and hedge fund activism could increasingly become blurred. To be sure, we do not expect institutional investors to develop deeply researched and detailed plans for companies’ operational improvement. Yet, institutional investors’ engagement is increasingly likely to focus not only on governance, but also on business and strategy issues.

The rising influence of institutional investors, however, is unlikely to displace at least some forms of activism. Specifically, we argue that institutional investors are unlikely to be effective in leading complex business interventions that require director appointments. Activists often appoint directors to target boards. Such appointments may be necessary to implement an activist campaign when the corporate change underlying the intervention does not lend itself to quick fixes, such as selling a subsidiary or buying back shares. In complex cases, activist directors are required not only in order to continuously monitor management, but also to further refine the activist business plan for the company.

This insight, however, only serves to reframe our Article’s basic question. Given the rising power of institutional investors, why can they not appoint such directors to companies’ boards? The answer lies in the need of such directors to share nonpublic information with the fund that appointed them. Sharing such information with institutional investors would create significant insider trading concerns and would critically change the role of institutional investors as relatively passive investors with a limited say over company affairs.

The complete article is available here.

____________________________________________

*Assaf Hamdani is Professor of Law and Sharon Hannes is Professor of Law and Dean of the Faculty at Tel Aviv University Buchmann Faculty of Law. This post is based on their recent article, forthcoming in the Boston University Law Review. Related research from the Program on Corporate Governance includes Dancing with Activists by Lucian Bebchuk, Alon Brav, Wei Jiang, and Thomas Keusch (discussed on the Forum here); The Agency Problems of Institutional Investors by Lucian Bebchuk, Alma Cohen, and Scott Hirst (discussed on the Forumhere); and Index Funds and the Future of Corporate Governance: Theory, Evidence, and Policy by Lucian Bebchuk and Scott Hirst (discussed on the forum here).

Le rôle du CA dans le développement durable et la création de valeur pour les actionnaires et les parties prenantes | En reprise


Aujourd’hui, je présente un article publié par Azeus Convene qui montre l’importance accrue que les entreprises doivent apporter au développement durable. 

L’article insiste sur le rôle du conseil d’administration pour faire des principes du développement durable à long terme les principales conditions de succès des organisations.

 

Les administrateurs doivent concevoir des politiques qui génèrent une valeur ajoutée à long terme pour les actionnaires, mais ils doivent aussi contribuer à améliorer le sort des parties prenantes, telles que les clients, les communautés et la société en général.

 

Il n’est cependant pas facile d’adopter des politiques qui mettent de l’avant les principes du développement durable et de la gestion des risques liés à l’environnement.

 

Dans ce document, publié sur le site de Board Agenda, on explique l’approche que les conseils d’administration doivent adopter en insistant plus particulièrement sur trois points :

 

    1. Un leadership capable de faire valoir les nombreux avantages stratégiques à tirer de cette approche ;
    2. Des conseils eu égard à l’implantation des changements
    3. Le processus de communication à mettre en œuvre afin de faire valoir les succès des entreprises

 

L’article qui suit donne plus de détails sur les fondements et l’application de l’approche du développement durable.

Bonne lecture ! Vos commentaires sont appréciés.

 

Le développement durable, la création de valeur et le rôle du CA

 

 

 

Businesses everywhere are developing sustainability policies. Implementation is never easy, but the right guidance can show the way.

When the experts sat down to write the UK’s new Corporate Governance Code earlier this year, they drafted a critical first principle. The role of the board is to “promote the long-term sustainable success of the company”. Boardroom members should generate value for shareholders, but they should also be “contributing to wider society”.

It is the values inherent in this principle that enshrines sustainability at the heart of running a company today.

Often sustainability is viewed narrowly, relating to policies affecting climate change. But it has long since ceased to be just about the environment. Sustainability has become a multifaceted concern embracing the long-term interests of shareholders, but also responsibilities to society, customers and local communities.

Publications like Harvard Business Review now publish articles such as “Inclusive growth: profitable strategies for tackling poverty and inequality”, or “Competing on social purpose”. Forbes has “How procurement will save the world” and “How companies can increase market rewards for sustainability efforts”. Sustainability is a headline issue for company leaders and here to stay.

But it’s not always easy to see how sustainability is integrated into a company’s existing strategy. So, why should your company engage with sustainability and what steps can it take to ensure it is done well?

…one of the biggest issues at the heart of the drive for sustainability is leadership. Implementing the right policies is undoubtedly a “top-down” process, not least because legal rulings have emphatically cast sustainability as a fiduciary duty.

The reasons for adopting sustainability are as diverse as the people and groups upon which companies have an impact. First, there is the clear environmental argument. Governments alone cannot tackle growing environment risk and will need corporates to play their part through their strategies and business models.

The issues driving political leaders have also filtered down to investment managers who have developed deep concerns that companies should be building strategies that factor in environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk. Companies that ignore the issue risk failing to attract capital. A 2015 study by the global benchmarking organisation PRI (Principles for Responsible Investment), conducted with Deutsche Bank Asset Management, showed that among 2,200 studies undertaken since 1970, 63% found a positive link between a company’s ESG performance and financial performance.

There’s also the risk of being left behind, or self-inflicted damage. In an age of instant digital communication news travels fast and a company that fails on sustainability could quickly see stakeholder trust undermined.

Companies that embrace the topic can also create what might be termed “sustainability contagion”: businesses supplying “sustainable” clients must be sustainable themselves, generating a virtuous cascade of sustainability behaviour throughout the supply chain. That means positive results from implemented sustainability policies at one end of the chain, and pressure to comply at the other.

Leadership

But perhaps one of the biggest issues at the heart of the drive for sustainability is leadership. Implementing the right policies is undoubtedly a “top-down” process, not least because legal rulings have emphatically cast sustainability as a fiduciary duty. That makes executive involvement and leadership an imperative. However, involvement of management at the most senior level will also help instil the kind of culture change needed to make sustainability an ingrained part of an organization, and one that goes beyond mere compliance.

Leaders may feel the need to demonstrate the value of a sustainability step-change. This is needed because a full-blooded approach to sustainability could involve rethinking corporate structures, processes and performance measurement. Experts recognise three ways to demonstrate value: risk, reward and recognition.

“Risk” looks at issues such as potential dangers associated with ignoring sustainability such as loss of trust, reputational damage (as alluded to above), legal or regulatory action and fines.

A “rewards”-centred approach casts sustainability as an opportunity to be pursued, as long as policies boost revenues or cut costs, and stakeholders benefit.

Meanwhile, the “recognition” method argues that sharing credit for spreading sustainability policies promotes long-term engagement and responsibility.

Implementation

Getting sustainability policies off the ground can be tricky, particularly because of their multifaceted nature.

recent study into European boards conducted by Board Agenda & Mazars in association with the INSEAD Corporate Governance Centre showed that while there is growing recognition by boards about the importance of sustainability, there is also evidence that they experience challenges about how to implement effective ESG strategies.

Proponents advise the use of “foundation exercises” for helping form the bedrock of sustainability policies. For example, assessing baseline environmental and social performance; analysing corporate management, accountability structures and IT systems; and an examination of material risk and opportunity.

That should provide the basis for policy development. Then comes implementation. This is not always easy, because being sustainable can never be attributed to a single policy. Future-proofing a company has to be an ongoing process underpinned by structures, measures and monitoring.
Policy delivery can be strengthened by the appointment of a chief sustainability officer (CSO) and establishing structures around the role, such as regular reporting to the chief executive and board, as well as the creation of a working committee to manage implementation of policies across the company.

Proponents advise the use of “foundation exercises” for helping form the bedrock of sustainability policies.

Sustainability values will need to be embedded at the heart of policies directing all business activities. And this can be supported through the use of an organisational chart mapping the key policies and processes to be adopted by each part of the business. The chart then becomes a critical ready reckoner for the boardroom and its assessment of progress.

But you can only manage what you measure, and sustainability policies demand the same treatment as any other business development initiative: key metrics accompanying the plan.

But what to measure? Examples include staff training, supply chain optimisation, energy efficiency, clean energy generation, reduced water waste, and community engagement, among many others.

Measuring then enables the creation of targets and these can be embedded in processes such as audits, supplier contracts and executive remuneration. If they are to have an impact, senior management must ensure the metrics have equal weight alongside more traditional measures.

All of this must be underpinned by effective reporting practices that provide a window on how sustainability practices function. And reporting is best supported by automated, straight-through processing, where possible.

Reliable reporting has the added benefit of allowing comparison and benchmarking with peers, if the data is available. The use of globally accepted standards—such as those provided by bodies like the Global Reporting Initiative—build confidence among stakeholders. And management must stay in touch, regularly consulting with the CSO and other stakeholders—customers, investors, suppliers and local communities—to ensure policies are felt in the right places.

Communication

Stakeholders should also hear about company successes, not just deliver feedback. Communicating a sustainability approach can form part of its longevity, as stakeholders hear the good news and develop an expectation of receiving more.

Companies are not expected to achieve all their sustainability goals tomorrow. Some necessarily take time. What is expected is long-term commitment and conviction, honest reporting and steady progress.

Care should be taken, however. Poor communication can be damaging, and a credible strategy will be required, one that considers how to deliver information frequently, honestly and credibly. It will need to take into account regulatory filings and disclosures, and potentially use social media as a means of reaching the right audience.

And that’s because successful sustainability policies are something to shout about. There is enormous pressure on companies to think differently, to reject a blinkered focus only on the bottom line and develop strategies that enable their companies to provide value, not only for shareholders but other stakeholders—society, customers, and suppliers—alike.

Companies are not expected to achieve all their sustainability goals tomorrow. Some necessarily take time. What is expected is long-term commitment and conviction, honest reporting and steady progress. The landscape on which businesses function is changing. They must change with it.

This article has been produced by Board Agenda in collaboration with Azeus Convene, a supporter of Board Agenda.

Gouvernance fiduciaire et rôles des parties prenantes (stakeholders)


Je partage avec vous l’excellente prise de position de Martin Lipton *, Karessa L. Cain et Kathleen C. Iannone, associés de la firme Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, spécialisée dans les fusions et acquisitions et dans les questions de gouvernance fiduciaire.

L’article présente un plaidoyer éloquent en faveur d’une gouvernance fiduciaire par un conseil d’administration qui doit non seulement considérer le point de vue des actionnaires, mais aussi des autres parties prenantes,

Depuis quelque temps, on assiste à des changements significatifs dans la compréhension du rôle des CA et dans l’interprétation que les administrateurs se font de la valeur de l’entreprise à long terme.

Récemment, le Business Roundtable a annoncé son engagement envers l’inclusion des parties prenantes dans le cadre de gouvernance fiduciaire des sociétés.

Voici un résumé d’un article paru dans le Los Angeles Times du 19 août 2019 : In shocking reversal, Big Business puts the shareholder value myth in the grave.

Among the developments followers of business ethics may have thought they’d never see, the end of the shareholder value myth has to rank very high.

Yet one of America’s leading business lobbying groups just buried the myth. “We share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders,” reads a statement issued Monday by the Business Roundtable and signed by 181 CEOs. (Emphasis in the original.)

The statement mentions, in order, customers, employees, suppliers, communities and — dead last — shareholders. The corporate commitment to all these stakeholders may be largely rhetorical at the moment, but it’s hard to overstate what a reversal the statement represents from the business community’s preexisting viewpoint.

Stakeholders are pushing companies to wade into sensitive social and political issues — especially as they see governments failing to do so effectively.

Since the 1970s, the prevailing ethos of corporate management has been that a company’s prime responsibility — effectively, its only responsibility — is to serve its shareholders. Benefits for those other stakeholders follow, but they’re not the prime concern.

In the Business Roundtable’s view, the paramount duty of management and of boards of directors is to the corporation’s stockholders; the interests of other stakeholders are relevant as a derivative of the duty to stockholders,” the organization declared in 1997.

Bonne lecture. Vos commentaires sont les bienvenus !

 

Stakeholder Governance and the Fiduciary Duties of Directors

 

Jamie Dimon
JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon signed the business statement disavowing the shareholder value myth.(J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

 

There has recently been much debate and some confusion about a bedrock principle of corporate law—namely, the essence of the board’s fiduciary duty, and particularly the extent to which the board can or should or must consider the interests of other stakeholders besides shareholders.

For several decades, there has been a prevailing assumption among many CEOs, directors, scholars, investors, asset managers and others that the sole purpose of corporations is to maximize value for shareholders and, accordingly, that corporate decision-makers should be very closely tethered to the views and preferences of shareholders. This has created an opportunity for corporate raiders, activist hedge funds and others with short-termist agendas, who do not hesitate to assert their preferences and are often the most vocal of shareholder constituents. And, even outside the context of shareholder activism, the relentless pressure to produce shareholder value has all too often tipped the scales in favor of near-term stock price gains at the expense of long-term sustainability.

In recent years, however, there has been a growing sense of urgency around issues such as economic inequality, climate change and socioeconomic upheaval as human capital has been displaced by technological disruption. As long-term investors and the asset managers who represent them have sought to embrace ESG principles and their role as stewards of corporations in pursuit of long-term value, notions of shareholder primacy are being challenged. Thus, earlier this week, the Business Roundtable announced its commitment to stakeholder corporate governance, and outside the U.S., legislative reforms in the U.K. and Europe have expressly incorporated consideration of other stakeholder interests in the fiduciary duty framework. The Council of Institutional Investors and others, however, have challenged the wisdom and legality of stakeholder corporate governance.

To be clear, Delaware law does not enshrine a principle of shareholder primacy or preclude a board of directors from considering the interests of other stakeholders. Nor does the law of any other state. Although much attention has been given to the Revlon doctrine, which suggests that the board must attempt to achieve the highest value reasonably available to shareholders, that doctrine is narrowly limited to situations where the board has determined to sell control of the company and either all or a preponderant percentage of the consideration being paid is cash or the transaction will result in a controlling shareholder. Indeed, theRevlon doctrine has played an outsized role in fiduciary duty jurisprudence not because it articulates the ultimate nature and objective of the board’s fiduciary duty, but rather because most fiduciary duty litigation arises in the context of mergers or other extraordinary transactions where heightened standards of judicial review are applicable. In addition, Revlon’s emphasis on maximizing short-term shareholder value has served as a convenient touchstone for advocates of shareholder primacy and has accordingly been used as a talking point to shape assumptions about fiduciary duties even outside the sale-of-control context, a result that was not intended. Around the same time that Revlon was decided, the Delaware Supreme Court also decided the Unocal and Household cases, which affirmed the board’s ability to consider all stakeholders in using a poison pill to defend against a takeover—clearly confining Revlonto sale-of-control situations.

The fiduciary duty of the board is to promote the value of the corporation. In fulfilling that duty, directors must exercise their business judgment in considering and reconciling the interests of various stakeholders—including shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers, the environment and communities—and the attendant risks and opportunities for the corporation.

Indeed, the board’s ability to consider other stakeholder interests is not only uncontroversial—it is a matter of basic common sense and a fundamental component of both risk management and strategic planning. Corporations today must navigate a host of challenges to compete and succeed in a rapidly changing environment—for example, as climate change increases weather-related risks to production facilities or real property investments, or as employee training becomes critical to navigate rapidly evolving technology platforms. A board and management team that is myopically focused on stock price and other discernible benchmarks of shareholder value, without also taking a broader, more holistic view of the corporation and its longer-term strategy, sustainability and risk profile, is doing a disservice not only to employees, customers and other impacted stakeholders but also to shareholders and the corporation as a whole.

The board’s role in performing this balancing function is a central premise of the corporate structure. The board is empowered to serve as the arbiter of competing considerations, whereas shareholders have relatively limited voting rights and, in many instances, it is up to the board to decide whether a matter should be submitted for shareholder approval (for example, charter amendments and merger agreements). Moreover, in performing this balancing function, the board is protected by the business judgment rule and will not be second-guessed for embracing ESG principles or other stakeholder interests in order to enhance the long-term value of the corporation. Nor is there any debate about whether the board has the legal authority to reject an activist’s demand for short-term financial engineering on the grounds that the board, in its business judgment, has determined to pursue a strategy to create sustainable long-term value.

And yet even if, as a doctrinal matter, shareholder primacy does not define the contours of the board’s fiduciary duties so as to preclude consideration of other stakeholders, the practical reality is that the board’s ability to embrace ESG principles and sustainable investment strategies depends on the support of long-term investors and asset managers. Shareholders are the only corporate stakeholders who have the right to elect directors, and in contrast to courts, they do not decline to second-guess the business judgment of boards. Furthermore, a number of changes over the last several decades—including the remarkable consolidation of economic and voting power among a relatively small number of asset managers, as well as legal and “best practice” reforms—have strengthened the ability of shareholders to influence corporate decision-making.

To this end, we have proposed The New Paradigm, which conceives of corporate governance as a partnership among corporations, shareholders and other stakeholders to resist short-termism and embrace ESG principles in order to create sustainable, long-term value. See our paper, It’s Time to Adopt The New Paradigm.


Martin Lipton * is a founding partner of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, specializing in mergers and acquisitions and matters affecting corporate policy and strategy; Karessa L. Cain is a partner; and Kathleen C. Iannone is an associate. This post is based on their Wachtell Lipton publication.

Deux développements significatifs en gouvernance des sociétés


Aujourd’hui, je veux porter à l’attention de mes lecteurs un article de Assaf Hamdani* et Sharon Hannes* qui aborde deux développements majeurs qui ont pour effet de bouleverser les marchés des capitaux.

D’une part, les auteurs constatent le rôle de plus en plus fondamental que les investisseurs institutionnels jouent sur le marché des capitaux aux É. U., mais aussi au Canada.

En effet, ceux-ci contrôlent environ les trois quarts du marché, et cette situation continue de progresser. Les auteurs notent qu’un petit nombre de fonds détiennent une partie significative du capital de chaque entreprise.

Les investisseurs individuels sont de moins en moins présents sur l’échiquier de l’actionnariat et leur influence est donc à peu près nulle.

Dans quelle mesure les investisseurs institutionnels exercent-ils leur influence sur la gouvernance des entreprises ? Quels sont les changements qui s’opèrent à cet égard ?

Comment leurs actions sont-elles coordonnées avec les actionnaires activistes (hedge funds) ?

La seconde tendance, qui se dessine depuis plus de 10 ans, concerne l’augmentation considérable de l’influence des actionnaires activistes (hedge funds) qui utilisent des moyens de pression de plus en plus grands pour imposer des changements à la gouvernance des organisations, notamment par la nomination d’administrateurs désignés aux CA des entreprises ciblées.

Quelles sont les nouvelles perspectives pour les activistes et comment les autorités réglementaires doivent-elles réagir face à la croissance des pressions pour modifier les conseils d’administration ?

Je vous invite à lire ce court article pour avoir un aperçu des changements à venir eu égard à la gouvernance des sociétés.

Bonne lecture !

 

 

The Future of Shareholder Activism

 

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Two major developments are shaping modern capital markets. The first development is the dramatic increase in the size and influence of institutional investors, mostly mutual funds. Institutional investors today collectively own 70-80% of the entire U.S. capital market, and a small number of fund managers hold significant stakes at each public company. The second development is the rising influence of activist hedge funds, which use proxy fights and other tools to pressure public companies into making business and governance changes.

Our new article, The Future of Shareholder Activism, prepared for Boston University Law Review’s Symposium on Institutional Investor Activism in the 21st Century, focuses on the interaction of these two developments and its implications for the future of shareholder activism. We show that the rise of activist hedge funds and their dramatic impact question the claim that institutional investors have conflicts of interest that are sufficiently pervasive to have a substantial market-wide effect. We further argue that the rise of money managers’ power has already changed and will continue to change the nature of shareholder activism. Specifically, large money managers’ clout means that they can influence companies’ management without resorting to the aggressive tactics used by activist hedge funds. Finally, we argue that some activist interventions—those that require the appointment of activist directors to implement complex business changes—cannot be pursued by money managers without dramatic changes to their respective business models and regulatory landscapes.

We first address the overlooked implications of the rise of activist hedge funds for the debate on institutional investors’ stewardship incentives. The success of activist hedge funds, this Article argues, cannot be reconciled with the claim that institutional investors have conflicts of interest that are sufficiently pervasive to have a substantial market-wide effect. Activist hedge funds do not hold a sufficiently large number of shares to win proxy battles, and their success to drive corporate change therefore relies on the willingness of large fund managers to support their cause. Thus, one cannot celebrate—or express concern over—the achievements of activist hedge funds and at the same time argue that institutional investors systemically desire to appease managers.

But if money managers are the real power brokers, why do institutional investors not play a more proactive role in policing management? One set of answers to this question focuses on the shortcomings of fund managers—their suboptimal incentives to oversee companies in their portfolio and conflicts of interest. Another answer focuses on the regulatory regime that governs institutional investors and the impediments that it creates for shareholder activism.

We offer a more nuanced account of the interaction of activists and institutional investors. We argue that the rising influence of fund managers is shaping and is likely to shape the relationships among corporate insiders, institutional investors, and activist hedge funds. Institutional investors’ increasing clout allows them to influence companies without resorting to the aggressive tactics that are typical of activist hedge funds. With institutional investors holding the key to their continued service at the company, corporate insiders today are likely to be more attentive to the wishes of their institutional investors, especially the largest ones.

In fact, in today’s marketplace, management is encouraged to “think like an activist” and initiate contact with large fund managers to learn about any concerns that could trigger an activist attack. Institutional investors—especially the large ones—can thus affect corporations simply by sharing their views with management. This sheds new light on what is labeled today as “engagement.” Moreover, the line between institutional investors’ engagement and hedge fund activism could increasingly become blurred. To be sure, we do not expect institutional investors to develop deeply researched and detailed plans for companies’ operational improvement. Yet, institutional investors’ engagement is increasingly likely to focus not only on governance, but also on business and strategy issues.

The rising influence of institutional investors, however, is unlikely to displace at least some forms of activism. Specifically, we argue that institutional investors are unlikely to be effective in leading complex business interventions that require director appointments. Activists often appoint directors to target boards. Such appointments may be necessary to implement an activist campaign when the corporate change underlying the intervention does not lend itself to quick fixes, such as selling a subsidiary or buying back shares. In complex cases, activist directors are required not only in order to continuously monitor management, but also to further refine the activist business plan for the company.

This insight, however, only serves to reframe our Article’s basic question. Given the rising power of institutional investors, why can they not appoint such directors to companies’ boards? The answer lies in the need of such directors to share nonpublic information with the fund that appointed them. Sharing such information with institutional investors would create significant insider trading concerns and would critically change the role of institutional investors as relatively passive investors with a limited say over company affairs.

The complete article is available here.

________________________________________________________________

*Assaf Hamdani is Professor of Law and Sharon Hannes is Professor of Law and Dean of the Faculty at Tel Aviv University Buchmann Faculty of Law. This post is based on their recent article, forthcoming in the Boston University Law Review. Related research from the Program on Corporate Governance includes Dancing with Activists by Lucian Bebchuk, Alon Brav, Wei Jiang, and Thomas Keusch (discussed on the Forum here); The Agency Problems of Institutional Investors by Lucian Bebchuk, Alma Cohen, and Scott Hirst (discussed on the Forumhere); and Index Funds and the Future of Corporate Governance: Theory, Evidence, and Policy by Lucian Bebchuk and Scott Hirst (discussed on the forum here).

Le rôle du CA dans le développement durable et la création de valeur pour les actionnaires et les parties prenantes


Aujourd’hui, je présente un article publié par Azeus Convene qui montre l’importance accrue que les entreprises doivent apporter au développement durable.
L’article insiste sur le rôle du conseil d’administration pour faire des principes du développement durable à long terme les principales conditions de succès des organisations.
Les administrateurs doivent concevoir des politiques qui génèrent une valeur ajoutée à long terme pour les actionnaires, mais ils doivent aussi contribuer à améliorer le sort des parties prenantes, telles que les clients, les communautés et la société en général.
Il n’est cependant pas facile d’adopter des politiques qui mettent de l’avant les principes du développement durable et de la gestion des risques liés à l’environnement.Dans ce document, publié sur le site de Board Agenda, on explique l’approche que les conseils d’administration doivent adopter en insistant plus particulièrement sur trois points :

 

  1. Un leadership capable de faire valoir les nombreux avantages stratégiques à tirer de cette approche ;
  2. Des conseils eu égard à l’implantation des changements
  3. Le processus de communication à mettre en œuvre afin de faire valoir les succès des entreprises

 

L’article qui suit donne plus de détails sur les fondements et l’application de l’approche du développement durable.

 

Bonne lecture ! Vos commentaires sont appréciés.

 

Le développement durable, la création de valeur et le rôle du CA

 

 

 

Businesses everywhere are developing sustainability policies. Implementation is never easy, but the right guidance can show the way.

When the experts sat down to write the UK’s new Corporate Governance Code earlier this year, they drafted a critical first principle. The role of the board is to “promote the long-term sustainable success of the company”. Boardroom members should generate value for shareholders, but they should also be “contributing to wider society”.

It is the values inherent in this principle that enshrines sustainability at the heart of running a company today.

Often sustainability is viewed narrowly, relating to policies affecting climate change. But it has long since ceased to be just about the environment. Sustainability has become a multifaceted concern embracing the long-term interests of shareholders, but also responsibilities to society, customers and local communities.

Publications like Harvard Business Review now publish articles such as “Inclusive growth: profitable strategies for tackling poverty and inequality”, or “Competing on social purpose”. Forbes has “How procurement will save the world” and “How companies can increase market rewards for sustainability efforts”. Sustainability is a headline issue for company leaders and here to stay.

But it’s not always easy to see how sustainability is integrated into a company’s existing strategy. So, why should your company engage with sustainability and what steps can it take to ensure it is done well?

…one of the biggest issues at the heart of the drive for sustainability is leadership. Implementing the right policies is undoubtedly a “top-down” process, not least because legal rulings have emphatically cast sustainability as a fiduciary duty.

The reasons for adopting sustainability are as diverse as the people and groups upon which companies have an impact. First, there is the clear environmental argument. Governments alone cannot tackle growing environment risk and will need corporates to play their part through their strategies and business models.

The issues driving political leaders have also filtered down to investment managers who have developed deep concerns that companies should be building strategies that factor in environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk. Companies that ignore the issue risk failing to attract capital. A 2015 study by the global benchmarking organisation PRI (Principles for Responsible Investment), conducted with Deutsche Bank Asset Management, showed that among 2,200 studies undertaken since 1970, 63% found a positive link between a company’s ESG performance and financial performance.

There’s also the risk of being left behind, or self-inflicted damage. In an age of instant digital communication news travels fast and a company that fails on sustainability could quickly see stakeholder trust undermined.

Companies that embrace the topic can also create what might be termed “sustainability contagion”: businesses supplying “sustainable” clients must be sustainable themselves, generating a virtuous cascade of sustainability behaviour throughout the supply chain. That means positive results from implemented sustainability policies at one end of the chain, and pressure to comply at the other.

Leadership

But perhaps one of the biggest issues at the heart of the drive for sustainability is leadership. Implementing the right policies is undoubtedly a “top-down” process, not least because legal rulings have emphatically cast sustainability as a fiduciary duty. That makes executive involvement and leadership an imperative. However, involvement of management at the most senior level will also help instil the kind of culture change needed to make sustainability an ingrained part of an organization, and one that goes beyond mere compliance.

Leaders may feel the need to demonstrate the value of a sustainability step-change. This is needed because a full-blooded approach to sustainability could involve rethinking corporate structures, processes and performance measurement. Experts recognise three ways to demonstrate value: risk, reward and recognition.

“Risk” looks at issues such as potential dangers associated with ignoring sustainability such as loss of trust, reputational damage (as alluded to above), legal or regulatory action and fines.

A “rewards”-centred approach casts sustainability as an opportunity to be pursued, as long as policies boost revenues or cut costs, and stakeholders benefit.

Meanwhile, the “recognition” method argues that sharing credit for spreading sustainability policies promotes long-term engagement and responsibility.

Implementation

Getting sustainability policies off the ground can be tricky, particularly because of their multifaceted nature.

recent study into European boards conducted by Board Agenda & Mazars in association with the INSEAD Corporate Governance Centre showed that while there is growing recognition by boards about the importance of sustainability, there is also evidence that they experience challenges about how to implement effective ESG strategies.

Proponents advise the use of “foundation exercises” for helping form the bedrock of sustainability policies. For example, assessing baseline environmental and social performance; analysing corporate management, accountability structures and IT systems; and an examination of material risk and opportunity.

That should provide the basis for policy development. Then comes implementation. This is not always easy, because being sustainable can never be attributed to a single policy. Future-proofing a company has to be an ongoing process underpinned by structures, measures and monitoring.
Policy delivery can be strengthened by the appointment of a chief sustainability officer (CSO) and establishing structures around the role, such as regular reporting to the chief executive and board, as well as the creation of a working committee to manage implementation of policies across the company.

Proponents advise the use of “foundation exercises” for helping form the bedrock of sustainability policies.

Sustainability values will need to be embedded at the heart of policies directing all business activities. And this can be supported through the use of an organisational chart mapping the key policies and processes to be adopted by each part of the business. The chart then becomes a critical ready reckoner for the boardroom and its assessment of progress.

But you can only manage what you measure, and sustainability policies demand the same treatment as any other business development initiative: key metrics accompanying the plan.

But what to measure? Examples include staff training, supply chain optimisation, energy efficiency, clean energy generation, reduced water waste, and community engagement, among many others.

Measuring then enables the creation of targets and these can be embedded in processes such as audits, supplier contracts and executive remuneration. If they are to have an impact, senior management must ensure the metrics have equal weight alongside more traditional measures.

All of this must be underpinned by effective reporting practices that provide a window on how sustainability practices function. And reporting is best supported by automated, straight-through processing, where possible.

Reliable reporting has the added benefit of allowing comparison and benchmarking with peers, if the data is available. The use of globally accepted standards—such as those provided by bodies like the Global Reporting Initiative—build confidence among stakeholders. And management must stay in touch, regularly consulting with the CSO and other stakeholders—customers, investors, suppliers and local communities—to ensure policies are felt in the right places.

Communication

Stakeholders should also hear about company successes, not just deliver feedback. Communicating a sustainability approach can form part of its longevity, as stakeholders hear the good news and develop an expectation of receiving more.

Companies are not expected to achieve all their sustainability goals tomorrow. Some necessarily take time. What is expected is long-term commitment and conviction, honest reporting and steady progress.

Care should be taken, however. Poor communication can be damaging, and a credible strategy will be required, one that considers how to deliver information frequently, honestly and credibly. It will need to take into account regulatory filings and disclosures, and potentially use social media as a means of reaching the right audience.

And that’s because successful sustainability policies are something to shout about. There is enormous pressure on companies to think differently, to reject a blinkered focus only on the bottom line and develop strategies that enable their companies to provide value, not only for shareholders but other stakeholders—society, customers, and suppliers—alike.

Companies are not expected to achieve all their sustainability goals tomorrow. Some necessarily take time. What is expected is long-term commitment and conviction, honest reporting and steady progress. The landscape on which businesses function is changing. They must change with it.

This article has been produced by Board Agenda in collaboration with Azeus Convene, a supporter of Board Agenda.

L’âge des administrateurs de sociétés représente-t-il un facteur déterminant dans leur efficacité comme membres indépendants de conseils d’administration ? En reprise


Voici une question que beaucoup de personnes expertes avec les notions de bonne gouvernance se posent : « L’âge des administrateurs de sociétés représente-t-il un facteur déterminant dans leur efficacité comme membres indépendants de conseils d’administration ? »

En d’autres termes, les administrateurs indépendants (AI) de 65 ans et plus sont-ils plus avisés, ou sont-ils carrément trop âgés ?

L’étude menée par Ronald Masulis* de l’Université de New South Wales Australian School of Business et de ses collègues est très originale dans sa conception et elle montre que malgré toutes les réformes réglementaires des dernières années, l’âge des administrateurs indépendants est plus élevé au lieu d’être plus bas, comme on le souhaitait.

L’étude montre que pendant la période allant de 1998 à 2014, l’âge médian des administrateurs indépendants (AI) des grandes entreprises américaines est passé de 60 à 64 ans. De plus, le pourcentage de firmes ayant une majorité de AI de plus de 65 ans est passé de 26 % à 50 % !

L’étude montre que le choix d’administrateurs indépendants de plus de 65 ans se fait au détriment d’une nouvelle classe de jeunes administrateurs dynamiques et compétents. Cela a pour effet de réduire le bassin des nouveaux administrateurs requis pour des postes d’administrateurs de la relève, ainsi que pour les besoins criants d’une plus grande diversité.

In our new study Directors: Older and Wiser, or Too Old to Govern?, we investigate this boardroom aging phenomenon and examine how it affects board effectiveness in terms of firm decision making and shareholder value creation. On the one hand, older independent directors can be valuable resources to firms given their wealth of business experience and professional connections accumulated over the course of their long careers. Moreover, since they are most likely to have retired from their full-time jobs, they should have more time available to devote to their board responsibilities. On the other hand, older independent directors can face declining energy, physical strength, and mental acumen, which can undermine their monitoring and advisory functions. They can also have less incentive to build and maintain their reputation in the director labor market, given their dwindling future directorship opportunities and shorter expected board tenure as they approach normal retirement age.

Dans la foulée des mouvements activistes, plusieurs entreprises semblent faire le choix d’AI plus âgés. Cependant, l’analyse coût/bénéfice de l’efficacité des AI plus âgés montre que leurs rendements est possiblement surfait et que la tendance à éliminer ou à retarder l’âge limite de retraite doit faire l’objet d’une bonne réflexion !

Si le sujet vous intéresse, je vous invite à lire l’article original. Vos commentaires sont les bienvenus.

Bonne lecture !

 

Directors: Older and Wiser, or Too Old to Govern?

 

 

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The past two decades have witnessed dramatic changes to the boards of directors of U.S. public corporations. Several recent governance reforms (the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the revised 2003 NYSE/Nasdaq listing rules, and the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act) combined with a rise in shareholder activism have enhanced director qualifications and independence and made boards more accountable. These regulatory changes have significantly increased the responsibilities and liabilities of outside directors. Many firms have also placed limits on how many boards a director can sit on. This changing environment has reduced the ability and incentives of active senior corporate executives to serve on outside boards. Faced with this reduced supply of qualified independent directors and the increased demand for them, firms are increasingly relying on older director candidates. As a result, in recent years the boards of U.S. public corporations have become notably older in age. For example, over the period of 1998 to 2014, the median age of independent directors at large U.S. firms rose from 60 to 64, and the percentage of firms with a majority of independent directors age 65 or above nearly doubled from 26% to 50%.

In our new study Directors: Older and Wiser, or Too Old to Govern?, we investigate this boardroom aging phenomenon and examine how it affects board effectiveness in terms of firm decision making and shareholder value creation. On the one hand, older independent directors can be valuable resources to firms given their wealth of business experience and professional connections accumulated over the course of their long careers. Moreover, since they are most likely to have retired from their full-time jobs, they should have more time available to devote to their board responsibilities. On the other hand, older independent directors can face declining energy, physical strength, and mental acumen, which can undermine their monitoring and advisory functions. They can also have less incentive to build and maintain their reputation in the director labor market, given their dwindling future directorship opportunities and shorter expected board tenure as they approach normal retirement age.

We analyze a sample of S&P 1500 firms over the 1998-2014 period and define an independent director as an “older independent director” (OID) if he or she is at least 65 years old. We begin by evaluating individual director performance by comparing board meeting attendance records and major board committee responsibilities of older versus younger directors. Controlling for a battery of director and firm characteristics as well as director, year, and industry fixed effects, we find that OIDs exhibit poorer board attendance records and are less likely to serve as the chair or a member of an important board committee. These results suggest that OIDs either are less able or have weaker incentives to fulfill their board duties.

We next examine major corporate policies and find a large body of evidence consistently pointing to monitoring deficiencies of OIDs. To measure the extent of boardroom aging, we construct a variable, OID %, as the fraction of all independent directors who are categorized as OIDs. As the percentage of OIDs on corporate boards rises, excess CEO compensation increases. This relationship is mainly driven by the cash component of CEO compensation. A greater OID presence on corporate boards is also associated with firms having lower financial reporting quality, poorer acquisition profitability measured by announcement returns, less generous payout polices, and lower CEO turnover-to-performance sensitivity. Moreover, we find that firm performance, measured either by a firm’s return on assets or its Tobin’s Q, is significantly lower when firms have a greater fraction of OIDs on their boards. These results collectively support the conclusion that OIDs suffer from monitoring deficiencies that impair the board’s effectiveness in providing management oversight.

We employ a number of approaches to address the endogeneity issue. First, we include firm-fixed effects wherever applicable to control for unobservable time-invariant firm-specific factors that may correlate with both the presence of OIDs and the firm outcome variables that we study. Second, we employ an instrumental variable regression approach where we instrument for the presence of OIDs on a firm’s board with a measure capturing the local supply of older director candidates in the firm’s headquarters state. We find that all of our firm-level results continue to hold under a two-stage IV regression framework. Third, we exploit a regulatory shock to firms’ board composition. The NYSE and Nasdaq issued new listing standards in 2003 following the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), which required listed firms to have a majority of independent directors on the board. We show that firms non-compliant with the new rule experienced a significantly larger increase in the percentage of OIDs over the 2000-2005 period compared to compliant firms. A major reason for this difference is that noncompliant firms needed to hire more OIDs to comply with the new listing standards. Using a firm’s noncompliance status as an instrument for the change in the board’s OID percentage, we find that firm performance deteriorates as noncompliant firms increase OIDs on their boards. We also conduct two event studies, one on OID appointment announcements and the other on the announcements of firm policy changes that increase the mandatory retirement age of outside directors. We find that shareholders react negatively to both announcements.

In our final set of analysis, we explore cross-sectional variations in the relation between OIDs and firm performance and policies. We find that the negative relation between OIDs and firm performance is more pronounced when OIDs hold multiple outside board seats. This evidence suggests that “busyness” exacerbates the monitoring deficiency of OIDs. We also find that for firms with high advisory needs, the relation between OIDs and firm performance is no longer significantly negative and in some cases, becomes positive. These results are consistent with OIDs using their experience and resources to provide valuable counsel to senior managers in need of board advice. Also consistent with OIDs performing a valuable advisory function, our analysis of acquirer returns shows that the negative relation between OIDs and acquirer returns is limited to OIDs who have neither prior acquisition experience, nor experience in the target industry. For OIDs with either type of experience, their marginal effect on acquirer returns is non-negative, and sometimes significantly positive.

Our research is the first investigation of the pervasive and growing phenomenon of boardroom aging at large U.S. corporations and its impact on board effectiveness and firm performance. As the debate over director age limits continues in the news media and among activist shareholders and regulators, our findings on the costs and benefits associated with OIDs can provide important and timely policy guidance. For companies considering lifting or waiving mandatory director retirement age requirements, so as to lower the burden of recruiting and retaining experienced independent directors, our evidence should give them pause. Similarly, while recent corporate governance reforms and the rise in shareholder activism have made boards, and especially independent directors, more accountable for managerial decisions and firm performance, they may also have created the unintended consequence of shrinking the supply of potential independent directors who are younger active executives. This result has led firms to tap deeper into the pool of older director candidates, which our analysis shows can undermine the very objectives that corporate governance reforms seek to accomplish.

The complete paper is available for download here.

___________________________________________________________________________________

*Ronald Masulis is Scientia Professor of Finance at University of New South Wales Australian School of Business; Cong Wang is Professor of Finance at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen and the associate director of Shenzhen Finance Institute; Fei Xie is Associate Professor of Finance at the University of Delaware; and Shuran Zhang is Associate Professor of Finance at Jinan University. This post is based on their recent paper.

L’âge des administrateurs de sociétés représente-t-il un facteur déterminant dans leur efficacité comme membres indépendants de conseils d’administration ?


Voici une question que beaucoup de personnes expertes avec les notions de bonne gouvernance se posent : « L’âge des administrateurs de sociétés représente-t-il un facteur déterminant dans leur efficacité comme membres indépendants de conseils d’administration ? »

En d’autres termes, les administrateurs indépendants (AI) de 65 ans et plus sont-ils plus avisés, ou sont-ils carrément trop âgés ?

L’étude menée par Ronald Masulis* de l’Université de New South Wales Australian School of Business et de ses collègues est très originale dans sa conception et elle montre que malgré toutes les réformes réglementaires des dernières années, l’âge des administrateurs indépendants est plus élevé au lieu d’être plus bas, comme on le souhaitait.

L’étude montre que pendant la période allant de 1998 à 2014, l’âge médian des administrateurs indépendants (AI) des grandes entreprises américaines est passé de 60 à 64 ans. De plus, le pourcentage de firmes ayant une majorité de AI de plus de 65 ans est passé de 26 % à 50 % !

L’étude montre que le choix d’administrateurs indépendants de plus de 65 ans se fait au détriment d’une nouvelle classe de jeunes administrateurs dynamiques et compétents. Cela a pour effet de réduire le bassin des nouveaux administrateurs requis pour des postes d’administrateurs de la relève, ainsi que pour les besoins criants d’une plus grande diversité.

In our new study Directors: Older and Wiser, or Too Old to Govern?, we investigate this boardroom aging phenomenon and examine how it affects board effectiveness in terms of firm decision making and shareholder value creation. On the one hand, older independent directors can be valuable resources to firms given their wealth of business experience and professional connections accumulated over the course of their long careers. Moreover, since they are most likely to have retired from their full-time jobs, they should have more time available to devote to their board responsibilities. On the other hand, older independent directors can face declining energy, physical strength, and mental acumen, which can undermine their monitoring and advisory functions. They can also have less incentive to build and maintain their reputation in the director labor market, given their dwindling future directorship opportunities and shorter expected board tenure as they approach normal retirement age.

Dans la foulée des mouvements activistes, plusieurs entreprises semblent faire le choix d’AI plus âgés. Cependant, l’analyse coût/bénéfice de l’efficacité des AI plus âgés montre que leurs rendements est possiblement surfait et que la tendance à éliminer ou à retarder l’âge limite de retraite doit faire l’objet d’une bonne réflexion !

Si le sujet vous intéresse, je vous invite à lire l’article original. Vos commentaires sont les bienvenus.

Bonne lecture !

Directors: Older and Wiser, or Too Old to Govern?

 

 

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The past two decades have witnessed dramatic changes to the boards of directors of U.S. public corporations. Several recent governance reforms (the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the revised 2003 NYSE/Nasdaq listing rules, and the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act) combined with a rise in shareholder activism have enhanced director qualifications and independence and made boards more accountable. These regulatory changes have significantly increased the responsibilities and liabilities of outside directors. Many firms have also placed limits on how many boards a director can sit on. This changing environment has reduced the ability and incentives of active senior corporate executives to serve on outside boards. Faced with this reduced supply of qualified independent directors and the increased demand for them, firms are increasingly relying on older director candidates. As a result, in recent years the boards of U.S. public corporations have become notably older in age. For example, over the period of 1998 to 2014, the median age of independent directors at large U.S. firms rose from 60 to 64, and the percentage of firms with a majority of independent directors age 65 or above nearly doubled from 26% to 50%.

In our new study Directors: Older and Wiser, or Too Old to Govern?, we investigate this boardroom aging phenomenon and examine how it affects board effectiveness in terms of firm decision making and shareholder value creation. On the one hand, older independent directors can be valuable resources to firms given their wealth of business experience and professional connections accumulated over the course of their long careers. Moreover, since they are most likely to have retired from their full-time jobs, they should have more time available to devote to their board responsibilities. On the other hand, older independent directors can face declining energy, physical strength, and mental acumen, which can undermine their monitoring and advisory functions. They can also have less incentive to build and maintain their reputation in the director labor market, given their dwindling future directorship opportunities and shorter expected board tenure as they approach normal retirement age.

We analyze a sample of S&P 1500 firms over the 1998-2014 period and define an independent director as an “older independent director” (OID) if he or she is at least 65 years old. We begin by evaluating individual director performance by comparing board meeting attendance records and major board committee responsibilities of older versus younger directors. Controlling for a battery of director and firm characteristics as well as director, year, and industry fixed effects, we find that OIDs exhibit poorer board attendance records and are less likely to serve as the chair or a member of an important board committee. These results suggest that OIDs either are less able or have weaker incentives to fulfill their board duties.

We next examine major corporate policies and find a large body of evidence consistently pointing to monitoring deficiencies of OIDs. To measure the extent of boardroom aging, we construct a variable, OID %, as the fraction of all independent directors who are categorized as OIDs. As the percentage of OIDs on corporate boards rises, excess CEO compensation increases. This relationship is mainly driven by the cash component of CEO compensation. A greater OID presence on corporate boards is also associated with firms having lower financial reporting quality, poorer acquisition profitability measured by announcement returns, less generous payout polices, and lower CEO turnover-to-performance sensitivity. Moreover, we find that firm performance, measured either by a firm’s return on assets or its Tobin’s Q, is significantly lower when firms have a greater fraction of OIDs on their boards. These results collectively support the conclusion that OIDs suffer from monitoring deficiencies that impair the board’s effectiveness in providing management oversight.

We employ a number of approaches to address the endogeneity issue. First, we include firm-fixed effects wherever applicable to control for unobservable time-invariant firm-specific factors that may correlate with both the presence of OIDs and the firm outcome variables that we study. Second, we employ an instrumental variable regression approach where we instrument for the presence of OIDs on a firm’s board with a measure capturing the local supply of older director candidates in the firm’s headquarters state. We find that all of our firm-level results continue to hold under a two-stage IV regression framework. Third, we exploit a regulatory shock to firms’ board composition. The NYSE and Nasdaq issued new listing standards in 2003 following the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), which required listed firms to have a majority of independent directors on the board. We show that firms non-compliant with the new rule experienced a significantly larger increase in the percentage of OIDs over the 2000-2005 period compared to compliant firms. A major reason for this difference is that noncompliant firms needed to hire more OIDs to comply with the new listing standards. Using a firm’s noncompliance status as an instrument for the change in the board’s OID percentage, we find that firm performance deteriorates as noncompliant firms increase OIDs on their boards. We also conduct two event studies, one on OID appointment announcements and the other on the announcements of firm policy changes that increase the mandatory retirement age of outside directors. We find that shareholders react negatively to both announcements.

In our final set of analysis, we explore cross-sectional variations in the relation between OIDs and firm performance and policies. We find that the negative relation between OIDs and firm performance is more pronounced when OIDs hold multiple outside board seats. This evidence suggests that “busyness” exacerbates the monitoring deficiency of OIDs. We also find that for firms with high advisory needs, the relation between OIDs and firm performance is no longer significantly negative and in some cases, becomes positive. These results are consistent with OIDs using their experience and resources to provide valuable counsel to senior managers in need of board advice. Also consistent with OIDs performing a valuable advisory function, our analysis of acquirer returns shows that the negative relation between OIDs and acquirer returns is limited to OIDs who have neither prior acquisition experience, nor experience in the target industry. For OIDs with either type of experience, their marginal effect on acquirer returns is non-negative, and sometimes significantly positive.

Our research is the first investigation of the pervasive and growing phenomenon of boardroom aging at large U.S. corporations and its impact on board effectiveness and firm performance. As the debate over director age limits continues in the news media and among activist shareholders and regulators, our findings on the costs and benefits associated with OIDs can provide important and timely policy guidance. For companies considering lifting or waiving mandatory director retirement age requirements, so as to lower the burden of recruiting and retaining experienced independent directors, our evidence should give them pause. Similarly, while recent corporate governance reforms and the rise in shareholder activism have made boards, and especially independent directors, more accountable for managerial decisions and firm performance, they may also have created the unintended consequence of shrinking the supply of potential independent directors who are younger active executives. This result has led firms to tap deeper into the pool of older director candidates, which our analysis shows can undermine the very objectives that corporate governance reforms seek to accomplish.

The complete paper is available for download here.

___________________________________________________________________________________

*Ronald Masulis is Scientia Professor of Finance at University of New South Wales Australian School of Business; Cong Wang is Professor of Finance at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen and the associate director of Shenzhen Finance Institute; Fei Xie is Associate Professor of Finance at the University of Delaware; and Shuran Zhang is Associate Professor of Finance at Jinan University. This post is based on their recent paper.

Huit (8) principes de base à respecter pour devenir un président de conseil d’administration exemplaire


Voici un article très intéressant publié dans l’édition d’avril 2018 de la Harvard Business Review qui porte sur l’identification des grands principes qui guident les comportements des présidents de conseil d’administration.

L’auteur, Stanislav Shekshnia*, est professeur à l’Institut européen d’administration des affaires (INSEAD) et chercheur émérite dans le domaine de la gouvernance. Son article est basé sur une enquête auprès de 200 présidents de conseils.

Que doit-on retenir de cette recherche eu égard aux rôles distinctifs des présidents de conseils d’administration et aux caractéristiques qui les distinguent des CEO ?

Huit principes ressortent de ces analyses :

(1) Be the guide on the side; show restraint and leave room for others

(2) Practice teaming—not team building

(3) Own the prep work; a big part of the job is preparing the board’s agenda and briefings

(4) Take committees seriously; most of the board’s work is done in them

(5) Remain impartial

(6) Measure the board’s effectiveness by its inputs, not its outputs

(7) Don’t be the CEO’s boss

(8) Be a representative with shareholders, not a player.

Je vous invite à lire l’article au complet puisqu’il regorge d’exemples très efficaces.

Bonne lecture !

 

How to Be a Good Board Chair

 

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*Stanislav Shekshnia is a professor at INSEAD. He is also a senior partner at Ward Howell, a global human capital consultancy firm, and a board member at a number of public and private companies in Central and Eastern Europe.

L’indépendance des administrateurs est-elle un gage de bonne gouvernance ?


L’une des questions prédominantes — et souvent controversées — dans l’évaluation des principes de saine gouvernance concerne l’indépendance des administrateurs.

L’Institut sur la gouvernance (IGOPP) propose une approche nouvelle et originale sur la question de l’indépendance des membres des conseils d’administration.

Dans un document « L’indépendance des conseils : un enjeu de légitimité », l’IGOPP propose que toute organisation dotée d’un conseil d’administration cherche à constituer un conseil qui soit à la fois légitime et crédible.

L’enjeu n’est pas tellement l’indépendance des conseils mais bien leur légitimité et leur crédibilité. La qualité d’indépendance ne prend son sens que si elle contribue à rehausser la légitimité d’un conseil.

C’est par sa légitimité qu’un conseil acquiert le droit et l’autorité de s’imposer à la direction d’une organisation. Les conseils d’organisations publiques ou privées, sans actionnaire ou sans actionnaire actif détenant plus de 10 % du capital-actions ordinaire, devraient être composés d’une majorité nette d’administrateurs indépendants. De plus, tous leurs comités statutaires devraient être composés exclusivement de membres indépendants.

L’article ci-dessous, écrit à la suite d’une table ronde réunissant plusieurs spécialistes de la gouvernance européenne, aborde trois sujets incontournables, en tentant de tirer des enseignements pour le futur :

(1) l’indépendance des administrateurs et la pertinence du concept

(2) les divers aspects de la rémunération et les obligations fiduciaires

(3) l’identification des actionnaires et les questions de procuration des votes

Dans ce billet, nous vous proposons les questionnements reliés à l’indépendance des administrateurs.

L’indépendance est-elle une bonne idée ?

Quels sont les problèmes liés à l’indépendance ?

Quels sont les résultats de recherche qui montrent que l’indépendance améliore la qualité de la gouvernance ?

Comment composer avec l’influence des gestionnaires et des conflits d’intérêts ?

L’article publié par Christian Strenger* est paru sur le site de Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Govervance.

Alors, selon vous, pourquoi l’indépendance des administrateurs est-elle un gage de bonne gouvernance ?

Bonne lecture ! Vos commentaires sont les bienvenus.

 

Key Governance Issues—Ways for the Future

 

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L’indépendance des administrateurs : panacée ou boîte de Pandore?

Board Independence: the Quality Question and dealing with Insider Issues

 

Background

 

A reliable formula for board effectiveness has been elusive, but the importance of effective boards warrants ongoing reflection and research by both academics and practitioners.

In spite of the diversity of governance models around the world, the concept of independence plays a prominent role in most, if not all, codes of governance globally as an intrinsic component of good board structure. For example, independence features, to varying degrees of emphasis, in the governance frameworks of the US, UK, Germany and Japan. It is also reflected in global frameworks, such as the ICGN Global Governance Principles or the OECD Corporate Governance Principles.

But what does independence mean in a corporate governance context, and does it deliver what we want it to? This session seeks to challenge how we think about independence and addresses several fundamental questions relating to boards and corporate governance:

  1. Is board independence essential to quality in corporate governance—or is independence simply a placebo that doesn’t do anything but makes us feel better?
  2. What do we expect board independence to achieve in practical terms?
  3. Are independent directors really in a position to monitor and control corporate insiders?

These are questions that have relevance for company managers and directors, but also for investors, regulators and stakeholders.

 

Role of boards

 

A company’s board of directors is at the core of its corporate governance. Boards play a range of advisory and control functions. This includes strategic direction and risk/control oversight, along with the monitoring and reward of executive management.

At a more overarching level, agency theory suggests that one of the key roles of the board is to serve as an agent protecting the interests of shareholders vis-à-vis company management or controlling owners. This reflects a duty of care to support the company’s long-term success and sustainable value creation and to ensure the alignment of interests between management, controlling owners, minority investors—taking into account stakeholder interests as well.

 

Why is independence a good idea?

 

Shareholders and other stakeholders expect boards to have the ability and authority to think and act independently from company executives or controlling owners. The board may be unable to serve effectively in its agency role if its directors’ judgements are not free of conflicts or any other external influence other than promoting the long-term success of the firm.

 

What are the problems related to independence?

 

It is important to recognise that independence has to be looked at in the context of how it affects board processes, decisions and overall governance. Yet spite of the inherent virtues of independence, its realisation in practice is not an easy fix; nor does it intrinsically enhance board effectiveness. A director must be able to contribute something other than independence alone, whether that is in the form of sector knowledge, commercial experience, international experience, technical skills or other areas that support the board’s oversight of company management.

Moreover, independence is ultimately a state of mind, not a product of definitions. There are many different sets of criteria that seek to define independence for individual directors. While these sorts of criteria can be useful, they can also be crude, misleading or incomplete.

The Lehman Brothers board in 2008, the year of its demise, was an example of a nominally independent board. But was this board able to operate independently of a strong Chair/CEO? Was there enough financial sector expertise amongst this group of independent directors to provide a rigorous challenge? (See Annex 1 in the complete publication).

 

Does independence ensure quality? What is the evidence?

 

Independence may be real, but it can be hard, if not impossible, to measure in a meaningful way. It is much easier to measure structural features of boards than it is to measure the quality of board processes. But sometimes what is easily measurable is not worth measuring. So while it is possible (and very common) to calculate simple ratios, such as independent directors/total directors a common gauge of board independence, they may not tell us much. Indeed, the evidence of empirical studies using simplistic/conventional measures of independence has been inconclusive (See Annex 2).

Many board attributes, including independence, which are regarded as “best practice” lack clear empirical grounding, at least in an econometric context. So, in many features of our corporate governance codes we are dealing in effect with opinions more than facts.

 

How to deal with insider influence and vested interests?

 

Insider influences can vary depending on the nature of the company. For widely-held companies, the vested interests of executive management often take the form of high pay for limited performance. In controlled companies vested interests may be the controlling owners themselves in terms of entrenchment and self-dealing.

Are independent directors really equipped to challenge these insiders? Or is that possibly asking for a bit too much? The empirical evidence cited above suggests that independent directors may not have a meaningful impact on board governance. But the evidence does suggest in the area of audit committees that independence is important. This makes logical sense, but it also suggests that for an independent director to provide meaningful oversight, independence must be combined with other important attributes, including sectoral knowledge and financial expertise. Independence as a determinant of board effectiveness therefore may be a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition.

 

Conclusion

 

We need to recognise that independence may be overrated, or at least not always live up to its billing. At least as it is conventionally defined, independence has not proven to be a panacea or silver bullet to ensure good corporate governance. At the same time, however, the concept of board independence is important and worth preserving, if nothing else as an aspirational ideal.

 

Discussion Results

 

Independent directors seem to be an intuitive solution for the agency problem stemming from the separation of ownership and control, but also for limiting the power of controlling shareholders in a corporation.

The starting point of the discussion was: Why do we need independence in the first place? As investors and other stakeholders want to see their interests served and protected by the board, the absence of potential conflicts of interest between non-executive directors and managers or undue influence from a major shareholder are the answers. Disclosure of meaningful ties of the non-executive directors to the management or controlling shareholders is important. The discussion also emphasized that reasonable diversity can be a contributing factor for board independence, and that truly independent board members can play a key role in avoiding too much convergence in decision making, as well as in focusing on the well-being of the company itself, and not any separate vested interests. While the discussion highlighted many benefits of board independence, it also pointed to potential costs: board independence may come with costs relating to problems in information flows, access to information and processing. Thus, it is important to complement board independence with proper board procedures and processes.

A key point of the discussion was the definition of independence itself. Besides the obligatory disclosure of relevant ties of a non-executive board member to management or controlling shareholders, regulators tried to formalize criteria to define independent board members. Academic literature also strives to evaluate how predefined criteria affect company decisions. However, results of these efforts are mixed and can hardly achieve “true” independence. The description of certain characteristics could introduce independence on paper, but may not reflect correctly the individual case of a board member. A predefined strict categorization would in practice suffer from a “ticking the box” approach. Independence from a controlling shareholder is equally hard to define as thresholds for shareholdings may not reflect the individual circumstances. The discussion also highlighted that strict definitions of independence might also require companies to replace experienced board members with new independent board members. That could lead to a temporary loss of experience and industry expertise.

Ways for the Future:

The realistic description of board independence needs a detailed assessment of the individual and a disclosure of ties of a non-executive board member to the management or controlling shareholders. Furthermore, disclosure of the selection process of the nomination committee should bring important insights for investors and the stakeholders.

The discussion further emphasized that formal characteristics alone could be misleading to determine the independence of a board member, focusing on “independence in mind” as an important aspect. As this factor is difficult to gauge or measure, investors may have to communicate with the chair in individual cases.

A sensible and company specific skillset of personnel management, industry knowledge and experience must be represented in the board as a priority, as formal independence alone is not a sufficient prerequisite for the selection process. The discussion emphasized that extensive information is key to allow proper evaluation of true independence. This should be complemented by sufficient access to the chair for communication with investors. The latest German code revision emphasizes that chairs make themselves available to investors for such supervisory board related issues.

Ways for the Future:

Full disclosure of important ties between individual board members with management and controlling shareholders should be obligatory. To properly evaluate the board member proposals, the disclosure of the skillsets of board members and the selection process would bring further important insights for investors. An idea proposed to support the process was the development of a “board skills matrix” for individual boards.

The discussion highlighted the key role of the nomination committee in the identificatio n and evaluation of independent directors. It was therefore suggested that the chair of the nomination committee should make himself available to investors. This point was controversially discussed due to possible loss of a “One Voice” communication strategy, so that communication should be confined to the chair of the supervisory board.

Another important point of the discussion was the regular evaluation of non-executive board members, as this may bring improvements for independent guidance and decision making of the full board. It could also identify areas of strength and weaknesses for an improved performance of both boards. A key prerequisite for a successful evaluation is the independence of the conducting leader.

The discussants raised the issue of the differences emerging from national governance environments, such as different shareholder structures and cultural differences. While the Anglo American approach to independence appears to work in the UK, this differs from continental European countries such as Germany and France.

Ways for the Future:

A solution to cross-country differences is the development of “local optima” that reflect the special circumstances in each country, rather from pursuing a “one fits all” approach.

Conclusion

The participants concluded that board independence remains a central issue in the corporate governance debate. The discussion identified definition issues as critical. It was also highlighted that full disclosure of the individual independence is important. Formal independence alone does not ensure board or director effectiveness. It must be accompanied with skills, knowledge and experience to obtain satisfactory board work results. Disclosure on the individual board members’ selection process and independence characteristics should be made available to investors and the other stakeholders.


*Christian Strenger is Academic Director at the Center for Corporate Governance at HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management. This post is based on a publication by Mr. Strenger and Jörg Rochell, President and Managing Director at ESMT Berlin, for a symposium held in Berlin on November 9, 2017, sponsored by ESMT Berlin and the Center for Corporate Governance at HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management.

Le leadership des présidents de conseils à l’échelle internationale


Voici un document présentant, de manière complète, les pratiques et les outils utilisés par les présidents de conseils d’administration, à l’échelle internationale.

Le rapport de cent pages, intitulé Commonalities, Différences, and Future Trend, publié sous l’égide de INSEAD Corporate Governance Initiative et de Ward Howell Talent Equity Institute Survey, par Stanislav Shekshnia et Veronika Zaviega, tente de cerner les exigences du rôle de « Chairman » ainsi que les conditions liées à l’efficacité des présidents de conseils dans un contexte mondial.

Through interviews with professional chairs in different parts of the world, the report identifies and compares specific practices and instruments used in different countries giving insights into pertinent issues surrounding the work of the chair and development of future trends over the next decade.

Bonne lecture !

 

Board Chairs’ Practices across Countries

 

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « Chaiman of the board insead »

 

 

Relatively little is known about board chairs as most of their work is done behind closed doors. They deal with highly sensitive matters but rarely appear in public. They have no executive power but preside over the most powerful body in the organisation – the board of directors. Their performance is critically important for every company but they still need help to improve it. Yet they have no boss, no peers, no one to turn to for an advice. They learn mostly by trial and error.

To respond to this paradox, INSEAD launched “Leading from the Chair”, a specialised program held twice a year for individuals from all over the world who are keen to understand what makes a good chair. We discovered how chairs from different countries face similar challenges and that they all seek practical ways to deal with them. Our goal is to help them to identify and adopt effective practices to perform what is a very demanding job.

To provide hard data we launched a Global Chair Research Project, inviting more than 600 chairpersons to participate in a survey with a structured questionnaire. From the 132 responses received from 30 countries, we compiled the INSEAD Global Chair Survey 2015. Our research provided valuable insights into their demographics, motivation, background, remuneration and the challenges they encounter.

As a next step we wanted to identify and compare specific practices and instruments used in different countries. A team of experts were assembled to conduct interviews with professional chairs in different parts of the world – Belgium, Denmark, Italy, the United Kingdom, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, Denmark, and the Netherlands. This report presents our preliminary findings. As the research continues, we expect to publish results for 16 countries by the end of 2017.

This publication can be read either as a whole or in chapters. Each country account can be read as a stand-alone without prior knowledge of what is said elsewhere. The introduction describes our methodology, some conceptual models which facilitate understanding of the work of a chair, as well as a summary of our major findings. The “Future Trends” section offers the research team’s view on how the chair’s role and function will evolve in the next decade.

Vous pouvez télécharger le rapport en cliquant sur le lien suivant : Board Chairs’ Practices across Countries.

Comment composer avec l’engagement accru des actionnaires et des investisseurs institutionnels ?


Voici un article publié par Tom Johnson dans Ethical Boardroom, et paru aujourd’hui sur le site de HLS Forum on Corporate Governance.

L’un des plus grands changements au cours des dix dernières années dans la gouvernance des entreprises est l’engagement accru des actionnaires et des investisseurs institutionnels dans les affaires de l’organisation. Cela se manifeste concrètement par des interventions activistes mal anticipées.

L’article ci-dessous est un bijou de réalisme et de pragmatisme eu égard au diagnostic de la situation de l’engagement des actionnaires ainsi qu’aux moyens à la disposition des entreprises pour favoriser le dialogue avec les grands actionnaires-investisseurs.

L’auteur propose six moyens à prendre en compte par l’entreprise afin d’assurer une meilleure communication avec les intéressés…

Les dirigeants d’entreprises ainsi que les présidents des conseils d’administration devraient prendre bonne note des suggestions présentées dans cet article.

Ils ont tout avantage à être proactif afin d’éviter les mauvaises surprises et les contestations susceptibles d’émerger de la part de groupes d’actionnaires mécontents ou opportunistes.

Bonne lecture ! Vos commentaires sont les bienvenus.

 

In today’s environment, companies cannot wait for a pressing issue to engage with their shareholders. By the time the issue becomes public because an activist has shown up or some other concern has emerged that affects the stock, it is often too late to have a productive conversation

 

Shareholder Engagement: An Evolving Landscape

 

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The significant rise of activism over the last decade has sharpened the focus on shareholder engagement in boardrooms and executive suites across the US.

 

Once considered a perfunctory exercise, designed to simply answer routine questions on performance or, occasionally, drum up support for a corporate initiative, shareholder engagement has become a strategic imperative for astute executives and board members who are no longer willing to wait until the annual meeting to learn that their shareholders may not support change of some sort, or their strategic direction overall.

When active shareholder engagement works, it leads to a productive dialogue with the voters—the governance departments established by the big institutional firms, which typically oversee proxy voting. It is important to remember the reality of public company ownership. The vast majority of public companies have shareholder bases dominated by a diverse set of large, institutional funds. Engagement with these voters not only helps head off potential problems and activists down the road, but it also gives management valuable insight into how patient and supportive their shareholder base is willing to be as they implement strategies designed to generate long-term growth. Indeed, the rising level of engagement is a positive trend that could, over time, help mitigate the threat of activism if properly managed.

This all sounds encouraging in theory and, in some cases, it works in practice as well. But the simple fact remains that this kind of dialogue is unobtainable for the vast majority of public companies, despite the best of intentions on both sides.

 

Struggles with Engagement

 

Even the largest institutional investors, many of whom are voting well in excess of 10,000 proxies a year, have at most 25-30 people in their governance departments able to engage directly with companies. Those teams do yeoman’s work to meet demands, taking several hundred and in some cases well more than 1,000 meetings with company executives or board members a year. But with more issues on corporate ballots than ever before that need to be researched and analysed, companies are finding it increasingly hard to get an audience with proxy voters even when a determination is made to more proactively engage. This can be true for even large companies with market capitalisations in the billions.

Indeed, for small-cap companies, the idea is almost always a non-starter, though there are workarounds. Some institutional funds are willing

to use roundtable discussions with several issuers at once to cover macro topics. Most mid-cap companies are out of luck as well, unless they are able to make a compelling case around a particular issue that catches a governance committee’s eye (more on that in a minute). Large-cap companies certainly meet the size threshold, but even they need to be smart in making the request. The net result is a conundrum at companies that are willing to engage but find their institutional investors less willing to do so, or are stretched too thin to make it happen.

The problem is a difficult one to solve. In today’s environment, companies cannot wait for a pressing issue to engage with their shareholders. By the time the issue becomes public because an activist has shown up or some other concern has emerged that affects the stock, it is often too late to have a productive conversation. Investors in those situations must decide what they know or can learn in a condensed period; they have little ability to become invested in the long-term thinking behind, for instance, a company’s change to executive pay or corporate governance. At the same time, institutional investors, while very open to and, in many cases, strong advocates for meeting with executives, cannot always handle the number of requests they receive, particularly when the requests come in during a condensed period. This has led some investors to establish requirements around which companies ‘qualify’ for a meeting, leaving some executives that don’t meet the thresholds frustrated that they can’t get an audience. Both sides are striving to improve the process in this rapidly evolving dynamic. The fact is that both sides have a lot of room for improvement. Here are a few guidelines we advise companies to use when deciding how or even if they should more proactively engage with their largest investors.

In today’s environment, companies cannot wait for a pressing issue to engage with their shareholders. By the time the issue becomes public because an activist has shown up or some other concern has emerged that affects the stock, it is often too late to have a productive conversation

 

1. If a meeting is unlikely, make your case in other ways

 

Just because you can’t get a meeting does not mean you can’t effectively influence how your investors vote on an issue. Most companies today fall well short in communicating effectively with the megaphones they do control—namely, the financial reports that are distributed to all shareholders. When a governance committee sits down to review an issue, the first thing it does is pull out the proxy. Yet most companies bury the most compelling arguments under mountains of legalese or financial jargon that is off-message or confusing. In today’s modern era, proxies need to tell an easily digestible story from start to finish. They need to be short, compelling and to the point.

Figure out the three to four things you need your investors to understand and put it right up front in the proxy in clear, compelling language. Be concise and to the point. Remove unnecessary background and encourage questions. Add clear graphic elements to illustrate the most important points. And be sure not to contradict yourself with a myriad of financial charts and footnotes, or provide inconsistent information with what you’ve said before. The proxy statement is the most powerful disclosure tool companies have, yet most are produced by disparate committees, piecing the behemoth filing together with little recognition of the overall document coming to life.

 

2. Know when to make contact

 

Most large, institutional shareholders and even some mid-sized ones, are open to meeting with management and/or board members under certain circumstances, but timing is key. Go see your investors on a “clear day”when a meaningful discussion on results and strategy can be had without the overhang of activist demands. For most companies, this means making contact during the summer and fall months after their annual meeting and when the filing window opens for the next year’s proxy.

Institutional investors do lots of meetings during proxy season as well, but those tend to focus on whatever issues have emerged in the proxy, or even worse, whatever demands an activist is making. If you believe you are vulnerable to an activist position, address that concern before it becomes an issue with the right combination of people who will ultimately vote the shares.

 

3. Know who to talk to

 

The hardest part of this equation for most companies is figuring out who the right person is at the funds for these conversations. Is it the portfolio manager (PM) who follows the company daily and typically has the most robust relationship with the company’s investor relations department? Is it the governance department that may have more sway over voting the shares? The answer is likely some combination of both. Each institution has its own process for making proxy voting decisions.

In many cases, it involves input from the portfolio manager, internal analyst and the governance department, as well as perhaps some influence from proxy advisory firms, such as ISS or Glass Lewis. But the ultimate decision-maker is always somewhere in that mix. The trick is to find out where. Start with the contacts you know best, but don’t settle for one relationship. If you don’t know your portfolio manager and governance analyst, then you are not going to get a complete picture on where you stand. In many cases, the PM can be a helpful advocate in having a governance analyst understand why certain results or decisions make sense. Once you find the right mix of people, selling the story will be much easier.

 

4. Don’t assume passive investors are passive

 

Today, many so-called passive investors are anything but. One passive investor told me his firm held more than 200 meetings with corporations last year.

A governance head at another institution said there is little difference today in how the firm evaluated proxy questions between its active and passive holdings. You may not always get an audience, but on important matters, treat your passive investors like anyone else. You may be surprised at how active they are. These firms also tend to be the busiest, so be assertive and creative in building a relationship. The front door may not be the only option.

 

5. Choose the best Messenger

 

There is an interesting debate going on in the governance community right now about how involved CEOs and board members should be in shareholder discussions. As a rule, we view it this way: routine conversations around results and performance can be handled by investor relations (IR). More sophisticated financial questions get elevated to CFOs. Once the conversations delve into strategy and growth plans, CEOs should be involved, but usually only with the largest current or potential shareholders. And, finally, when it comes to matters of governance policy, consider having a board member involved.

Board engagement with shareholders is a relatively new trend, but an important one. Investors are often reassured when they see and hear from an engaged board and many will confess that those meetings can change their thinking. But having the right board member who can handle those conversations and be credible is key. A former CEO, who is used to shareholder interactions, or a savvy lead independent director can fit the bill.

But with investors increasingly asking for—and indeed many boards starting to offer—meetings with directors, every board should be evaluating who that representative will be if the opportunity comes along.

 

6. Be prepared and walk in with a clear set of goals

 

Too often, companies spend too much time just trying to determine what not to say in meetings with investors and not nearly enough time working on what they want to communicate. This mistake leads to frustration and missed opportunities, not to mention a reduced likelihood that it can get an audience again.

Every investor meeting is an opportunity to better refine or explain your corporate growth story. Walk into every meeting with clear goals in mind. Better yet, get the investor to articulate their own agenda as well. Know exactly what each of you wants to get out of the meeting and then get down to business. Be upfront and honest about why you are requesting the meeting. Governance investors are far more engaged when companies walk in with stated goals in mind. Surface potential problems and your solution to them, before they emerge.

 

Making the effort

 

Even with this level of planning, large companies can still find their requests for engagement on governance topics unheeded. Many of the large, institutional investors have installed various thresholds, generally predicated to a company’s size, that companies need to meet to receive an audience. But that does not mean companies should give up. Continue to work the contacts you do have within each institution. Tell your best story in routine discussions, such as earnings calls or conference presentations. Those are too often missed opportunities. Look for other opportunities to get in front of investors.

Conferences can be great forums, as can organisations, such as the Society of Corporate Governance, Council for Institutional Investors or National Association of Corporate Directors. Every time you communicate externally, it is a chance to tell your story and make the right disclosures. History is littered with companies that waited too long to do so, came under attack and lost control of their own destiny. Don’t waste any opportunity to make your best case to whomever is listening.

Attentes réciproques | C.A. et direction


Vous trouverez ci-dessous les grandes lignes d’un article publié par Richard Leblanc* dans la revue mensuelle de Governance Centre of excellence à propos de ce que le conseil d’administration attend de la direction, et vice-versa.

Ce sont des questions qui me sont fréquemment posées.

L’auteur a su présenter les réponses à ces questions en des termes clairs. Je vous invite à télécharger ce court article.

Bonne lecture !

What Management Expects from the Board

Management, in turn, has expectations of the board. They are:

  1. Candor
  2. Integrity and Independence
  3. Direction
  4. React in a Measured Way
  5. Trust and Confidence
  6. Knowledge of the Business
  7. Meeting Preparation
  8. Asking Good Questions

La gouvernance des CÉGEPS | Une responsabilité partagée


Nous publions ici un cinquième billet de Danielle Malboeuf* laquelle nous a soumis ses réflexions sur les grands enjeux de la gouvernance des institutions d’enseignement collégial les 23 et 27 novembre 2013, le 24 novembre 2014 et le 4 septembre 2015, à titre d’auteure invitée.

Dans un premier article, publié le 23 novembre 2013 sur ce blogue, on insistait sur l’importance, pour les CA des Cégeps, de se donner des moyens pour assurer la présence d’administrateurs compétents dont le profil correspond à celui qui est recherché. D’où les propositions adressées à la Fédération des cégeps et aux CA pour élaborer un profil de compétences et pour faire appel à la Banque d’administrateurs certifiés du Collège des administrateurs de sociétés (CAS), le cas échéant. Un autre enjeu identifié dans ce billet concernait la remise en question de l’indépendance des administrateurs internes.

Le deuxième article publié le 27 novembre 2013 abordait l’enjeu entourant l’exercice de la démocratie par différentes instances au moment du dépôt d’avis au conseil d’administration.

Le troisième article portait sur l’efficacité du rôle du président du conseil d’administration (PCA).

Le quatrième billet abordait les qualités et les caractéristiques des bons administrateurs dans le contexte du réseau collégial québécois (CÉGEP)

Dans ce cinquième billet, l’auteure réagit aux préoccupations actuelles de la ministre de l’Enseignement supérieur eu égard à la gouvernance des CÉGEPS.

 

La gouvernance des CÉGEPS | Une responsabilité partagée

par

Danielle Malboeuf*  

 

Dans les suites du rapport de la vérificatrice générale portant sur la gestion administrative des Cégeps, la ministre de l’Enseignement supérieur, madame Hélène David a demandé au ministère un plan d’action pour améliorer la gouvernance dans le réseau collégial. Voici un point de vue qui pourrait enrichir sa réflexion.

Rappelons que pour atteindre de haut standard d’excellence, les collèges doivent compter sur un conseil d’administration (CA) performant dont les membres font preuve d’engagement, de curiosité et de courage tout en possédant les qualifications suivantes : crédibles, compétents, indépendants, informés et outillés.

Considérant l’importance des décisions prises par les administrateurs, il est essentiel que ces personnes possèdent des compétences et une expertise pertinente. Parmi les bonnes pratiques en gouvernance, les CA devraient d’ailleurs élaborer un profil de compétences recherchées pour ses membres et l’utiliser au moment de la sélection des administrateurs.  Au moment de solliciter la nomination d’un administrateur externe auprès du gouvernement, ce profil devrait être fortement recommandé. Sachant que chacun des 48 CA des Collèges d’enseignement général et professionnel compte sept personnes nommées par la ministre pour un mandat de trois ans renouvelable, il est important de lui rappeler l’importance d’en tenir compte.

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Il est également essentiel qu’elle procède à ces nominations dans les meilleurs délais. À l’heure actuelle, on constate que, dans certains cas, le délai pour nommer et remplacer des administrateurs externes peut être de plusieurs mois. Cette situation est doublement préoccupante quand plusieurs membres quittent le CA en même temps. Sachant qu’il existe une banque de candidats dûment formés par le Collège des administrateurs de sociétés et des membres de plusieurs ordres professionnels qui répondent au profil de compétences recherchées par les collèges, il serait pertinent de recruter des candidats parmi ces personnes.

De plus, pour être en présence d’administrateurs performants, il est essentiel que ces personnes soient au fait de leurs rôles et responsabilités. Des formations devraient donc leur être offertes. Toutefois, cette formation ne doit pas se limiter à leur faire connaître les obligations légales et financières qui s’appliquent au réseau collégial, mais les bonnes pratiques de gouvernance doivent également leur être enseignées. À ce sujet, il faut se réjouir du souhait formulé par madame David afin d’offrir des formations en ce sens.

Signalons aussi que les administrateurs ne devraient pas se retrouver en situation de conflit d’intérêts. Ainsi, il faut s’assurer, entre autres, que les administrateurs internes ne subissent pas de pressions des  groupes d’employés dont ils proviennent. Les  conseils d’administration des collèges comptent quatre membres du personnel qui enrichissent les échanges par leurs expériences pertinentes. La Loi sur les collèges prévoit que ces administrateurs internes sont élus par leurs pairs. Dans plusieurs collèges, le processus de sélection est confié au syndicat qui procède à l’élection de leur représentant au conseil d’administration lors d’une assemblée syndicale. Ces personnes peuvent subir des pressions surtout quand certains syndicats inscrivent dans leur statut et règlement que ces personnes doivent représenter l’assemblée syndicale et y faire rapport. D’autres collèges ont prévu des modalités qui respectent beaucoup mieux l’esprit de la loi. On confie au secrétaire général, le mandat de recevoir les candidatures et de procéder dans le cadre de processus convenu à la sélection de ces personnes. Cette dernière pratique devrait être encouragée.

Considérant les pouvoirs du CA qui agit tant sur les aspects financiers et légaux que sur les orientations du collège, il est essentiel que la direction fasse preuve de transparence et transmette aux membres toutes les informations pertinentes. Pour permettre aux administrateurs de porter des jugements adéquats et de juger de la pertinence et de l’efficacité de sa gestion, le collège doit aussi leur fournir des indicateurs. Sachant que des indicateurs sont présents dans le plan stratégique, les administrateurs devraient, donc porter une attention toute particulière à ces indicateurs, et ce, sur une base régulière.

Par ailleurs, les administrateurs ne doivent pas hésiter à poser des questions et à demander des informations additionnelles, le cas échéant. Le président du CA peut, dans ce sens, jouer un rôle essentiel. Il doit, entre autres, porter un regard critique sur les documents qui sont transmis avant les rencontres et encourager la création de sous-comités pour enrichir les réflexions. Considérant le rôle qui lui est confié dans la Loi, les présidents de CA pourraient être tentés de se limiter à jouer un rôle d’animateur de réunions, ce qui n’est pas suffisant.

En résumé, la présence de CA performant dans les Cégeps exige une évolution des pratiques et idéalement, des modifications législatives qui mettront à contribution chacun des acteurs du réseau collégial.

_______________________

*Danielle Malboeuf est consultante et formatrice en gouvernance ; elle possède une grande expérience dans la gestion des CÉGEPS et dans la gouvernance des institutions d’enseignement collégial et universitaire. Elle est CGA-CPA, MBA, ASC, Gestionnaire et administratrice retraitée du réseau collégial et consultante.

___________________________

Articles sur la gouvernance des CÉGEPS publiés sur mon blogue par l’auteure :

(1) LE RÔLE DU PRÉSIDENT DU CONSEIL D’ADMINISTRATION (PCA) | LE CAS DES CÉGEPS

(2) Les grands enjeux de la gouvernance des institutions d’enseignement collégial

(3) L’exercice de la démocratie dans la gouvernance des institutions d’enseignement collégial

(4) Caractéristiques des bons administrateurs pour le réseau collégial | Danielle Malboeuf

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L’efficacité du rôle du président du conseil


Nous publions ici un quatrième billet de Danielle Malboeuf* laquelle nous a soumis ses réflexions sur les grands enjeux de la gouvernance des institutions d’enseignement collégial les 23 et 27 novembre 2013, à titre d’auteure invitée.

Dans un premier billet, publié le 23 novembre 2013 sur ce blogue, on insistait sur l’importance, pour les CA des Cégep, de se donner des moyens pour assurer la présence d’administrateurs compétents dont le profil correspond à celui recherché.

D’où les propositions adressées à la Fédération des cégeps et aux CA pour préciser un profil de compétences et pour faire appel à la Banque d’administrateurs certifiés du Collège des administrateurs de sociétés (CAS), le cas échéant. Un autre enjeu identifié dans ce billet concernait la remise en question de l’indépendance des administrateurs internes.

Le deuxième billet publié le 27 novembre 2013 abordait l’enjeu entourant l’exercice de la démocratie par différentes instances au moment du dépôt d’avis au conseil d’administration.

Le troisième billet portait sur l’efficacité du rôle du président du conseil d’administration (PCA).

Ce quatrième billet est une mise à jour de son dernier article portant sur le rôle du président de conseil.

Voici donc l’article en question, reproduit ici avec la permission de l’auteure.

Vos commentaires sont appréciés. Bonne lecture.

________________________________________

 

LE RÔLE DU PRÉSIDENT DU CONSEIL D’ADMINISTRATION | LE CAS DES INSTITUTIONS D’ENSEIGNEMENT COLLÉGIAL 

par Danielle Malboeuf*  

 

Il y a deux ans, je publiais un article sur le rôle du président du conseil d’administration (CA) [1]. J’y rappelais le rôle crucial et déterminant du président du CA et j’y précisais, entre autres, les compétences recherchées chez cette personne et l’enrichissement attendu de son rôle.

Depuis, on peut se réjouir de constater qu’un nombre de plus en plus élevé de présidents s’engagent dans de nouvelles pratiques qui améliorent la gouvernance des institutions collégiales. Ils ne se limitent plus à jouer un rôle d’animateurs de réunions, comme on pouvait le constater dans le passé.

president-du-conseil-dadministration

Notons, entre autres, que les présidents visent de plus en plus à bien s’entourer, en recherchant des personnes compétentes comme administrateurs. D’ailleurs, à cet égard, les collèges vivent une situation préoccupante. La Loi sur les collèges d’enseignement général et professionnel prévoit que le ministre [2] nomme les administrateurs externes. Ainsi, en plus de connaître des délais importants pour la nomination de nouveaux administrateurs, les collèges ont peu d’influence sur leur choix.

Présentement, les présidents et les directions générales cherchent donc à l’encadrer. Ils peuvent s’inspirer, à cet égard, des démarches initiées par d’autres organisations publiques en établissant, entre autres, un profil de compétences recherchées qu’ils transmettent au ministre. Ils peuvent ainsi tenter d’obtenir une complémentarité d’expertise dans le groupe d’administrateurs.

Une fois les administrateurs nommés, les présidents doivent se préoccuper d’assurer leur formation continue pour développer les compétences recherchées. Ils se donnent ainsi l’assurance que ces personnes comprennent bien leur rôle et leurs responsabilités et qu’elles sont outillées pour remplir le mandat qui leur est confié. De plus, ils doivent s’assurer que les administrateurs connaissent bien l’organisation, qu’ils adhèrent à sa mission et qu’ils partagent les valeurs institutionnelles. En présence d’administrateurs compétents, éclairés, et dont l’expertise est reconnue, il est plus facile d’assurer la légitimité et la crédibilité du CA et de ses décisions.

Un président performant démontrera aussi de grandes qualités de leadership. Il fera connaître à toutes les instances du milieu le mandat confié au CA. Il travaillera à mettre en place un climat de confiance au sein du CA et avec les gestionnaires de l’organisation. Il  cherchera à exploiter l’ensemble des compétences et à faire jouer au CA un rôle qui va au-delà de celui de fiduciaire, soit celui de contribuer significativement à la mission première du cégep : donner une formation pertinente et de qualité où l’étudiant et sa réussite éducative sont au cœur des préoccupations.

Plusieurs ont déjà fait le virage… c’est encourageant ! Les approches préconisées par l’Institut sur la gouvernance des organismes publics et privés (IGOPP) et le Collège des administrateurs de sociétés (CAS) puis reprises dans la loi sur la gouvernance des sociétés d’État ne sont sûrement pas étrangères à cette évolution. En fournissant aux présidents de CA le soutien, la formation et les outils appropriés pour améliorer leur gouvernance, le Centre collégial des services regroupés (CCSR) [3] contribue à assurer le développement des institutions collégiales dans un contexte de saine gestion.

Un CA performant est guidé par un président compétent.


[1] https://jacquesgrisegouvernance.com/2014/01/24/le-role-du-president-du-conseil-dadministration-pca-le-cas-des-cegep/

[2] Ministre de l’Enseignement supérieur, de la Recherche, de la Science et de la Technologie

[3] Formation développée en partenariat avec l’Institut sur la gouvernance des organisations privées et publiques (IGOPP)

_______________________________

*Danielle Malboeuf est consultante et formatrice en gouvernance ; elle possède une grande expérience dans la gestion des CEGEP et dans la gouvernance des institutions d’enseignement collégial et universitaire. Elle est CGA-CPA, MBA, ASC, Gestionnaire et administratrice retraité du réseau collégial et consultante.

 

 

Articles sur la gouvernance des CEGEP

(1) Les grands enjeux de la gouvernance des institutions d’enseignement collégiaux

(2) L’exercice de la démocratie dans la gouvernance des institutions d’enseignement collégiaux

(3) LE RÔLE DU PRÉSIDENT DU CONSEIL D’ADMINISTRATION (PCA) | LE CAS DES CÉGEP

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Le monde des affaires peut-il contribuer à assainir le processus politique américain ?


Aujourd’hui, je partage avec vous les réflexions de Ben W. Heineman, Jr*, ex-conseiller en chef de GE et Fellow de la Harvard Law School et de la Kennedy School of Government.

L’article illustre certaines dysfonctions du processus politique américain et montre que les sociétés américaines sont, en partie responsable du climat de méfiance de la population envers Washington.

L’auteur identifie plusieurs moyens que le monde des affaires devrait explorer afin de remédier aux lacunes observées dans le fonctionnement de notre démocratie et des relations entre le gouvernement et les sociétés :

  1. Limitation des sommes investies par les entreprises dans les campagnes politiques (7 milliards US en 2016)
  2. Divulgation financière accrue
  3. Meilleure identification des éléments factuels en matière politique
  4. Reconnaître la nécessité de se mettre à la place de l’autre partie dans le but d’atteindre un équilibre des valeurs
  5. Bâtir de larges coalitions
  6. Garder la tête froide afin d’éviter la confrontation
  7. Éviter la partisanerie

Le monde des entreprises ne doit pas s’ériger en modèle eu égard à la gestion des affaires de l’État ; cependant, je crois que les organisations doivent prendre en compte les moyens suggérés par l’auteur afin d’améliorer la communication et la bonne gouvernance.

Bonne lecture !

 

Can Business Help Fix Our Broken Politics?

 

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Many business people are appalled at the current state of our politics. Few, however, would admit that the “business community” is responsible, in part, for our dysfunctional political culture. And fewer yet may be prepared to think about how business can take steps—in concert with other political actors—to help soothe the distemper.

But, this dreary campaign season is a good time for corporate leaders to consider specific changes in political processes—less money, more disclosure, fair facts, balanced proposals, broad coalitions, cooler rhetoric, bi-partisanship—which could help fix our broken politics and rehabilitate business’s own political standing. Such process changes proceed from an understanding that there will always be significant substantive policy differences about societal problems but that those differences require a national politics that promotes common sense, civility and compromise to move the country forward, as has happened before in our history.

First a brief background sketch on the sorry state of our current political discourse.

The problem in our political system is not just the cacophony of the campaigns which distorts and obscures the real issues facing the nation. Below the noise, we have a populist revolt among a significant segment of the electorate that is more sharply critical of business than the general anti-corporate undercurrent which has long been present in American politics. That revolt stems partly from genuine problems of recession and a changing economy which is leaving some people behind but partly from the demagogic appeals to latent anger about race, immigration, Islam and trade. Moreover, the two major parties have been dead-locked for a long time on how to deal with major issues of paramount concern to the economy and the country—e.g., taxes, trade, worker dislocation, inequality, stimulus/deficit, infrastructure, immigration, education, energy and the environment—yielding a Congressional approval rating of only 14 percent!

Moreover, the well-publicized problems in the corporate community have added to political dysfunction, leading to low levels of trust in business’ role in policy and politics. These include: a steady drumbeat of corporate scandals (Wells Fargo is only the latest); ever higher executive compensation combined with stagnant real income of average citizens; corporate mistakes relating to leverage and liquidity as a major cause of the Great Recession; the perception that business elites are have disproportionate influence due to money in politics; and an aggregate sense that too much of corporate involvement in policy is in the service of “crony capitalism”, the range of subsidies, loopholes, franchises, concessions et al. that have little or no basis in advancing the broad public interest.

Business is hardly alone in its credibility problems with parts of the electorate. Other prominent actors—for example, unions, consumers, environmentalists and political parties—also have perceived failings. And, while some of the general distrust is due to political hyperventilation, there are, as noted, genuine substantive differences about whether libertarian, conservative, populist or liberal ideas are the right approach to various national problems.

But the rude noise of our current politics and the genuine substantive differences suggest that business ought to consider working with other actors in our political system on at least the following issues of political process to engender more civility and compromise. Each of these subjects is worthy of extended, book-length discussions, but here are the headlines:

New substantive limits on campaigns awash in money (more than $7B estimated in 2016 federal elections).

Although “independent” spending for educational purposes or in support of candidates is protected speech under the First Amendment, it may be limited under the Constitution if improperly “coordinated” with candidates’ campaigns or if used for “corrupt” purposes. Similarly, “educational” efforts by social welfare organizations authorized by the IRS could be more carefully circumscribed only to include genuine charitable and less partisan activities. Congress could take such narrowing steps or authorize the IRS and a reconstituted Federal Election Commission (which could have a tie-breaking chair appointed by the party in power) to address these issues.

More financial disclosure.

In elections, the Federal Election Commission and the IRS could require more real time disclosure of contributors and expenditures for “independent” entities organized under their jurisdiction. This timely disclosure (the IRS is particularly slow) would also cover more campaign finance if the scope of campaign activity funded through IRS entities was limited, forcing independent funds into the more transparent FEC Super PACs. And, the IRS could consider whether there should be an exception to the general rule of non-disclosure regarding contributors for trade associations or other authorized 501(c)(3) entities engaged in “education” on campaign issues during a defined political season.

Develop fairer, clearer facts in policy disputes.

Corporations and other parties could work with public officials to devise better, honest methods for establishing a record of consensus facts in legislative and regulatory disputes and identifying the assumptions underlying contested facts so that the battle of experts is more clearly understood by decision-makers and the public.

Acknowledge the need to balance values in conflict.

Corporations and other parties should identify and acknowledge the values on both sides of most regulatory and legislative debates and make a good faith effort to give weight to all the values in conflict, e.g. finding a fair balance between the verities of equity and efficiency in social welfare legislation or between access, cost and quality in healthcare legislation or between expedition and safety in drug approvals or between short-term cost and long-term benefit in environmental regulation.

Build broad coalitions.

Too often business public policy efforts take place in the self-referential echo-chamber of trade associations or other business groups. Working with other interested parties to create coalitions that include, but are not limited to, business allies increases the chances of broad-minded approaches that can secure approval and provide durable benefits. Indeed, there no united “business community,” and disagreements among business actors (e.g. global v. domestic, tech v. industrial) means broader coalition building is necessary.

Cool the rhetoric.

One of the poisonous aspects of our current political culture is rhetoric that demonizes opponents with words like “hate” or that bemoans an approaching American Armageddon. Business, especially, should use calm and reasoned civil discourse, recognizing that there are usually legitimate opposing values in political debates and helping find a middle ground that does not demand total victory.

Avoid Partisanship.

Corporations should seek bipartisan or nonpartisan solutions to our most pressing problems to mitigate the anger and hostility exchanged across the aisle on so many pressing national issues which require sensible compromises. Too often relations in Congress or between Congress and the Executive look like an insoluble “blood feud.”

There should be no mistake. These political process issues—relating to money, facts, balance, coalitions, rhetoric and bipartisanship—may be as vexing and controversial for the business community as substantive policy positions. Some companies will resist, inter alia, because they believe their particular substantive position is more important than general process or because they believe gridlock in public policy is better than compromise.

Nonetheless, a timely question is whether corporations, by focusing on these and other process issues, can help heal, rather than exacerbate, the manifest ills in our political system—ills posing serious threats to the maintenance of a healthy constitutional democracy and a sound mixed economy in which vital public goods can be secured and private enterprise can flourish? These issues relating to the process of political participation should be central to a company’s future debates about what constitutes being a “good corporate citizen.” This subject is too vast for a single corporation, but a broad based “coalition of the willing,” extending far beyond corporations, may be the way past the dystopic present—what leading political scientist Francis Fukuyama has warned is American “political decay”—to a post-election future of a vibrant and workable democracy.

__________________________________

*Ben W. Heineman, Jr. is former GE General Counsel and is a senior fellow at Harvard Law School and Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He is author of the new book, The Inside Counsel Revolution: Resolving the Partner-Guardian Tension (Ankerwycke 2016), as well as High Performance with High Integrity (Harvard Business Press 2008).

L’efficacité du rôle du président du conseil


Nous publions ici un quatrième billet de Danielle Malboeuf* laquelle nous a soumis ses réflexions sur les grands enjeux de la gouvernance des institutions d’enseignement collégial les 23 et 27 novembre 2013, à titre d’auteure invitée.

Dans un premier billet, publié le 23 novembre 2013 sur ce blogue, on insistait sur l’importance, pour les CA des Cégep, de se donner des moyens pour assurer la présence d’administrateurs compétents dont le profil correspond à celui recherché.

D’où les propositions adressées à la Fédération des cégeps et aux CA pour préciser un profil de compétences et pour faire appel à la Banque d’administrateurs certifiés du Collège des administrateurs de sociétés (CAS), le cas échéant. Un autre enjeu identifié dans ce billet concernait la remise en question de l’indépendance des administrateurs internes.

Le deuxième billet publié le 27 novembre 2013 abordait l’enjeu entourant l’exercice de la démocratie par différentes instances au moment du dépôt d’avis au conseil d’administration.

Le troisième billet portait sur l’efficacité du rôle du président du conseil d’administration (PCA).

Ce quatrième billet est une mise à jour de son dernier article portant sur le rôle du président de conseil.

Voici donc l’article en question, reproduit ici avec la permission de l’auteure.

Vos commentaires sont appréciés. Bonne lecture.

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LE RÔLE DU PRÉSIDENT DU CONSEIL D’ADMINISTRATION | LE CAS DES INSTITUTIONS D’ENSEIGNEMENT COLLÉGIAL 

par Danielle Malboeuf*  

 

Il y a deux ans, je publiais un article sur le rôle du président du conseil d’administration (CA) [1]. J’y rappelais le rôle crucial et déterminant du président du CA et j’y précisais, entre autres, les compétences recherchées chez cette personne et l’enrichissement attendu de son rôle.

Depuis, on peut se réjouir de constater qu’un nombre de plus en plus élevé de présidents s’engagent dans de nouvelles pratiques qui améliorent la gouvernance des institutions collégiales. Ils ne se limitent plus à jouer un rôle d’animateurs de réunions, comme on pouvait le constater dans le passé.

president-du-conseil-dadministration

Notons, entre autres, que les présidents visent de plus en plus à bien s’entourer, en recherchant des personnes compétentes comme administrateurs. D’ailleurs, à cet égard, les collèges vivent une situation préoccupante. La Loi sur les collèges d’enseignement général et professionnel prévoit que le ministre [2] nomme les administrateurs externes. Ainsi, en plus de connaître des délais importants pour la nomination de nouveaux administrateurs, les collèges ont peu d’influence sur leur choix.

Présentement, les présidents et les directions générales cherchent donc à l’encadrer. Ils peuvent s’inspirer, à cet égard, des démarches initiées par d’autres organisations publiques en établissant, entre autres, un profil de compétences recherchées qu’ils transmettent au ministre. Ils peuvent ainsi tenter d’obtenir une complémentarité d’expertise dans le groupe d’administrateurs.

Une fois les administrateurs nommés, les présidents doivent se préoccuper d’assurer leur formation continue pour développer les compétences recherchées. Ils se donnent ainsi l’assurance que ces personnes comprennent bien leur rôle et leurs responsabilités et qu’elles sont outillées pour remplir le mandat qui leur est confié. De plus, ils doivent s’assurer que les administrateurs connaissent bien l’organisation, qu’ils adhèrent à sa mission et qu’ils partagent les valeurs institutionnelles. En présence d’administrateurs compétents, éclairés, et dont l’expertise est reconnue, il est plus facile d’assurer la légitimité et la crédibilité du CA et de ses décisions.

Un président performant démontrera aussi de grandes qualités de leadership. Il fera connaître à toutes les instances du milieu le mandat confié au CA. Il travaillera à mettre en place un climat de confiance au sein du CA et avec les gestionnaires de l’organisation. Il  cherchera à exploiter l’ensemble des compétences et à faire jouer au CA un rôle qui va au-delà de celui de fiduciaire, soit celui de contribuer significativement à la mission première du cégep : donner une formation pertinente et de qualité où l’étudiant et sa réussite éducative sont au cœur des préoccupations.

Plusieurs ont déjà fait le virage… c’est encourageant ! Les approches préconisées par l’Institut sur la gouvernance des organismes publics et privés (IGOPP) et le Collège des administrateurs de sociétés (CAS) puis reprises dans la loi sur la gouvernance des sociétés d’État ne sont sûrement pas étrangères à cette évolution. En fournissant aux présidents de CA le soutien, la formation et les outils appropriés pour améliorer leur gouvernance, le Centre collégial des services regroupés (CCSR) [3] contribue à assurer le développement des institutions collégiales dans un contexte de saine gestion.

Un CA performant est guidé par un président compétent.


[1] https://jacquesgrisegouvernance.com/2014/01/24/le-role-du-president-du-conseil-dadministration-pca-le-cas-des-cegep/

[2] Ministre de l’Enseignement supérieur, de la Recherche, de la Science et de la Technologie

[3] Formation développée en partenariat avec l’Institut sur la gouvernance des organisations privées et publiques (IGOPP)

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*Danielle Malboeuf est consultante et formatrice en gouvernance ; elle possède une grande expérience dans la gestion des CEGEP et dans la gouvernance des institutions d’enseignement collégial et universitaire. Elle est CGA-CPA, MBA, ASC, Gestionnaire et administratrice retraité du réseau collégial et consultante.

 

 

Articles sur la gouvernance des CEGEP

(1) Les grands enjeux de la gouvernance des institutions d’enseignement collégiaux

(2) L’exercice de la démocratie dans la gouvernance des institutions d’enseignement collégiaux

(3) LE RÔLE DU PRÉSIDENT DU CONSEIL D’ADMINISTRATION (PCA) | LE CAS DES CÉGEP

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