'The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly': Private Benefits of Control and Their Regulatory Implications
Alessio M. Pacces
Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam - Rotterdam Institute of Law and Economics; European Corporate Governance Institute
Corporate Ownership and Control, Vol. 5, No. 4, pp. 477-491, Summer 2008
This paper attempts to shed a new light on the economics and the law of corporate governance. It so does by taking stock of the weaknesses of the standard account of how law "matters" for separation of ownership and control. This account fails to explain comparative corporate governance. Both the ownership structure and the functioning of the market for corporate control do not seem to depend entirely on the strength with which non-controlling shareholders are protected by corporate law. Without claiming that legal protection of minority shareholders does not matter in corporate governance, this paper shows that protection and exchange of corporate control is at least as important and so are the legal institutions that support them. This result is derived by introducing a third category of private benefits of control (idiosyncratic PBC), which supplements the more traditional specifications as inefficient consumption of control perquisites (distortionary PBC) or outright expropriation of shareholder value (diversionary PBC).
The implications for corporate law are broader than those of the law matters framework. Even though legal institutions effectively constrain expropriation of non-controlling shareholders, they may still make corporate governance inefficient when they fail to provide entitlements to uncontested control independently of how much ownership is retained by corporate controllers. Likewise, regulation may undermine the takeover process when it restricts side payments that ultimately support efficient bargaining upon the value of corporate control.
Keywords: entrepreneurship, private benefits of control, entrenchment, comparative corporate governance, ownership structure, takeovers, Coase Theorem, agency costs, incomplete contracts, control premium
JEL Classification: G34, K22, K42, L26, O16
Date posted: May 29, 2008 ; Last revised: January 17, 2009