Paper by Naoto Isaka – When Are Uninformed Boards Preferable?

Abstract

In this paper, I analyze the optimal choice of board of directors using the dual role model of boards in Adams and Ferreira (2007). In my model, shareholders choose either an informed board that brings additional private information to the firm or an uninformed board that merely considers the inside information already available within the firm. The board then randomly chooses a good chief executive officer (CEO) with inside information or a bad CEO without such information, and the CEO decides whether to consult with the board when making a project decision. I show that shareholders generally choose the informed board to maximize firm value by utilizing the private information available to the board. However, the shareholders optimally select the uninformed board if the CEO is reluctant to communicate with the informed board for fear it will reject the CEO’s decision. The uninformed board is also optimal when the board has a sufficiently large private benefit of monitoring the CEO, the shareholders feel burdened by any conflict between the CEO and the board, or the firm is involved in many unrelated businesses, especially when the inside information is valuable and the firm needs many outsiders to observe useful outside information. I use some of these implications and casual observation of real-world data to discuss recent trends in the board structure of Japanese firms.

”Thoughts on the Business Roundtable’s Principles of Corporate Governance”

Following the release of the ”Commonsence Principles of Corporate Governance ”  by a diverse, twelve-member coalition of executives of major corporations, asset managers and one shareholder activist in America in July 2016, the influential Business Roundtable (“BRT”) recently released a set of corporate governance principles which are to provide guidance on governance disclosure.

Whereas the Commonsence Principles of Corporate Governance are mainly 8 recommendations on roles and responsibilities of the board, companies and shareholders, the BRT Principles extensively cover the key governance issues such as board responsibilities, roles of key corporate actors, committee responsibilities and other, elemental, governance concerns historically addressed by the organization.

In his article, Michael W. Peregrine, of McDermott Will & Emery LLP shares his thoughts on the BRT Principles that articulate these governance issues on  long term value sustainability, shareholder engagement, board diversity, committee practices and succession matters.

Read full article here.

Source: Havard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation

Principles of Corporate Governance 2016 by the Business Roundtable

”Foreword and Introduction

Business Roundtable has been recognized for decades as an authoritative voice on matters affecting American business corporations and meaningful and effective corporate governance practices. Since Business Roundtable last updated Principles of Corporate Governance in 2012, U.S. public companies have continued to adapt and refine their governance practices within the framework of evolving laws and stock exchange rules. Business Roundtable CEOs continue to believe that the United States has the best corporate governance, financial reporting and securities markets systems in the world. These systems work because they give public companies not only a framework of laws and regulations that establish minimum requirements but also the flexibility to implement customized practices that suit the companies’ needs and to modify those practices in light of changing conditions and standards.

”The Rise of the Independent Director: A Historical and Comparative Perspective” by Harald Baum

Abstract:  The paper provides a historical analysis of the rise of the independent director in the US and the UK. These two jurisdictions are commonly credited with creating the concept of the independent director and exporting it around the world. In the first half of the twentieth century, a managerialist model of corporate governance dominated in the US. Inside directors, chosen and controlled by the CEO, dominated corporate boards. The concept of the independent director and the related model of the ‘monitoring board’ appeared only in the 1970s. Two watershed events sparked this dramatic change: First, the sudden collapse of the major railway company Penn Central in 1970; and second, Eisenberg’s influential book ‘The Structure of the Corporation’, published in 1976. According to Eisenberg, the board’s essential function was to monitor the company’s management by being independent from it. Today the reliance on independent directors as a panacea for various corporate governance ills has reached its zenith in the US. As in the US, the typical British board of the 1950s was an advisory board dominated by insiders. It was only in the 1990s, with the beginning of the British corporate governance movement subsequent to the publication of the Cadbury Report, that the concept of independent directors was embraced in the UK. Since the early 2000s independent directors have dominated on the boards of listed companies. From the UK, the concept of the independent director started to conquer the European Union as a fundamental corporate governance principle. The European Model Company Act of 2015 and, on the supra-national level, the OECD Principles of Corporate Governance of 2015 recommend assigning important tasks to independent board members. The empirical support for staffing boards with independent directors, however, remains surprisingly shaky given the ubiquitous reliance on independent directors. The global financial crisis of 2008 has added further doubts.

Read full research paper here. 

”Boards in Europe – Accountability and Convergence” by Paul L. Davies Klaus J. Hopt

Abstract: Corporate boards play a central role in corporate governance and therefore are regulated in the corporate law and corporate governance codes of all industrialized countries. Yet while there is a common core of rules on the boards, considerable differences remain, not only in detail, but sometimes also as to main issues. These differences depend partly on shareholder structure (dispersed or blockholding), partly on path dependent historical, political and social developments, especially employee representation on the board. More recently, in particular with the rise of the international corporate governance code movement there is a clear tendency towards convergence, at least in terms of the formal provisions of the codes. This article analyses the corporate boards, their regulation in law and codes and their actual functioning in nine European countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom) in a functional and comparative method. Issues dealt with are inter alia board structure, composition and functioning (one tier v. two tier, independent directors, expertise and diversity, separating the chair and the CEO functions, information streams, committees, voting and employee representation) and enforcement by liability rules (in particular conflicts of interest), incentive structures (remuneration) and shareholder activism. The article finds convergence in these European countries due to the pressures of competition, a pro-shareholder change supported by government and institutional investors and, to a certain degree, the impact of the EU. This convergence shows more in the codes and the ensuing practice than in the statutes. On the other side considerable differences remain, in particular as a result of the failure to adopt a mandatory „no frustration“ rule for takeovers at EU level and diverging systems of labor codetermination. The result is an unstable balance between convergence and divergence, shareholder and stakeholder influence and European v. national rulemaking.

Read full working paper here.

‘Discussion Between Two Outside Directors in Japan’

Increasing the number of outside directors, and fully using what they can contribute, is one of the areas emphasized by Corporate Governance Code introduced in Japan more than a year ago.  Below is an insightful discussion between two outside Directors , Mr. Yoshiaki Ozawa and Mr. Noboru Kashiwagi at Daifuku, who share their views.

Read the discussion here.

”Will better corporate governance boost Japanese equity returns?”

Despite the fact that many folks are still pessimistic as to whether corporate governance reforms will bring a surmountable positive change to the Japanese economy, there has been some notable changes as the writer of this article, Louise Dudley, Hermes Global Equities Portfolio Manager, below puts it. It will take time and patience but will be worth it in the end.

”Corporate Governance: The role of institutional investors will become crucial”

In the article below, Mr. Mayajima Hideaki, a faculty fellow at the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry ( REITI) reviews the characteristics of ownership structures in Japanese companies and examine what conditions are necessary to ensure the effective operation of the  corporate governance code that has been in place for a year now.

He explains how institutional investors will increasingly play a key role in dissolving cross-sharing arrangements and increasing shareholder influence.

”A Look at the Recent State of Corporate Governance in Japan”

Below is an interview on the recent state of Corporate governance in Japan that was held early this month. The interview is between Mr. Miyajima Hideaki (Faculty Fellow, RIETI / Waseda University),  interviewer and Mr. Colin Mayer (Said Business School, Oxford University), interviewee.

Mr. Mayer shares his opinions on the unique features of corporate governance in Japan, how to encourage companies to take risks, ownership structures, the role of outside directors, the comply and explain principle and the role of corporate governance in promoting strong economic performance.

”Corporate governance report card”

”Japanese companies appear to be steadily implementing the corporate governance code introduced by the Tokyo Stock Exchange a year ago, at least in form. Of the 2,018 firms listed on the first and second sections of the TSE, 78 percent say they are now in compliance with at least 90 percent of the principles set […]