Reforming Share-Voting Systems: The Case of Italy
21 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2011
Date Written: April 25, 2011
Institutional shareholders around the world increasingly use share-voting to protect their portfolio investments and improve corporate governance. However, exercising voting rights involves costly and often arcane country-specific legal rules. Efforts are under way to harmonize cross-border share-voting systems and proxy voting rules in the U.S. and in Member States of the European Union (EU). We comment on the recent changes to the share-registration system and voting chain for publicly traded companies in Italy, triggered by the 2007 EU Shareholder Rights Directive. We highlight continuing voting impediments in Italy, and suggest that moving to a centralized or “direct” share registration system would reduce voting-chain complexity further. Examples of centralized share registration systems, which permit “straight-through” processing of shareholder votes and eliminate “empty” voting, are found in the Nordic countries.
Keywords: shareholder registry, cross-border voting, voting chain, voting rights, share blocking, centralized share deposit, electronic voting, proxy voting, EU shareholder rights directive
JEL Classification: G34, G38, K22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation