Sovereign Investing and Corporate Governance: Evidence and Policy
52 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2013 Last revised: 1 Dec 2015
Date Written: February 18, 2013
Discussions of corporate governance often focus solely on the attractiveness of firms to investors, but it is also true that firms seek out preferred investors. What, then, are the characteristics of an attractive investor? With nearly $6 trillion in assets, sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) are increasingly important players in equity markets in the United States and abroad, and possess characteristics that firms prize: deep pockets, long-term (and for some, theoretically infinite) investment horizons, and potential network benefits that many other shareholders cannot offer. However, despite their economic power, their reach, and their general desirability as investors, SWFs are almost entirely disengaged from corporate governance matters in U.S. firms. Indeed, with the exception of Norway’s Government Pension Fund-Global, SWFs are notable primarily just for their passivity as shareholders.
Given the domestic and external political and regulatory factors that discourage SWF engagement in corporate governance in the United States, how can SWFs provide appropriate stewardship over their equity investments? The article answers this question by describing how SWFs and regulators can create the crucial “space” necessary for SWF engagement in corporate governance. The analysis proceeds in three substantive sections. Part I lays out a definition of SWFs and describes SWF investment patterns. Part II reviews empirical evidence on SWF investment behavior and the effects that the investment has on firm values, and then examines evidence on SWF activities in corporate governance. Part III discusses the key factors that limit SWF involvement in corporate governance activities. Part IV describes how, given these limitations, SWFs may engage in governance without triggering regulatory reprisals, and how regulators can encourage SWF investment and engagement.
Keywords: corporate governance, sovereign wealth, CFIUS
JEL Classification: K2, K20, K29, K22, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation