A Theory of Shareholder Approval and Proposal Rights
USC CLEO Research Paper Series No. C12-1
38 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2012 Last revised: 17 Jan 2017
Date Written: January 1, 2017
This paper develops a theory of how shareholder decision rights over policies and directors affect firm value. The model highlights the distinction between the right to approve and the right to propose. The right to approve is weak; the right to propose is impactful but can help as well as hurt shareholders. Managers have an incentive to deter proposals from activist shareholders by adjusting corporate policy; one might conjecture that external pressure leads them to choose policies more appealing to other shareholders in order to reduce the electoral prospects of activist proposals. However, we show that when deterrence occurs, it is always by moving policy toward the position favored by the activist, even if this reduces shareholder wealth. Our analysis stresses the central role of voting uncertainty in determining the value consequences of shareholder rights and proxy access.
Keywords: Shareholder Proposals, Director Nominations, Proxy Access, Right to Propose and Approve, Cost of Shareholder Rights
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