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The Principle of Proportional Ownership, Investor Protection and Firm Value in Western Europe


Morten Bennedsen


INSEAD - Economics and Political Sciences

Kasper Meisner Nielsen


Hong Kong University of Science & Technology - Department of Finance

October 2006

ECGI - Finance Working Paper No. 134/2006

Abstract:     
Previous research initiated by Claessens et al. (2002) has established a value discount of disproportional ownership structures. Due to omitted variables problems it is difficult to provide a causal interpretation of these findings. We provide a thorough analysis of this value discount in a large sample of Western European firms, which strengthens the causal interpretation that the discount is driven by incentive and entrenchment effects. First, we show that the value discount is higher in firms with low cash flow concentration, in family firms, in industries with higher amenity value and in countries with better investor protection. Second, we show that these findings are consistent with the predictions of a theoretical model of incentive and entrenchment effects. Third, we find little empirical evidence for a number of alternative omitted variable explanations, including: protection of private benefits; voting and block premia; low-liquidity discount; and, protection against uninvited takeovers. Fourth, we present the puzzling finding that the value discount is significantly higher in firms with dual class shares than in firms with pyramidal ownership. Fifth, we find no impact of disproportional ownership structures on operating performance. Finally, we discuss policy implications of these findings in relationship to the ongoing process of harmonization of the European capital markets.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 49

Keywords: Ownership Structure, Dual Class Shares, Pyramids, EU company law

JEL Classification: G30, G32, G34, G38

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Date posted: October 31, 2006  

Suggested Citation

Bennedsen, Morten and Nielsen, Kasper Meisner, The Principle of Proportional Ownership, Investor Protection and Firm Value in Western Europe (October 2006). ECGI - Finance Working Paper No. 134/2006. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=941054 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.941054

Contact Information

Morten Bennedsen (Contact Author)
INSEAD - Economics and Political Sciences ( email )
Boulevard de Constance
F-77305 Fontainebleau Cedex
France

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Kasper Meisner Nielsen
Hong Kong University of Science & Technology - Department of Finance ( email )
Clear Water Bay, Kowloon
Hong Kong
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