Controlling Stockholders and the Disciplinary Role of Corporate Payout Policy: A Study of the Times Mirror Company
Posted: 18 Apr 2001
The Times Mirror Company, a NYSE-listed Fortune 500 firm controlled for 100 years by the Chandler family, hired an industry outsider as CEO in 1995 following an extended period of poor operating and stock price performance under non-family management. This change was apparently an unintended consequence of actions taken by old management to fund its capital expansion plans while satisfying the family's desire for dividends. Specifically, in 1994 old management agreed to (1) sell TM's cable business and reinvest most of the $1.3 billion proceeds in new technology, and (2) maintain the Chandlers' dividends while radically cutting those to minority stockholders. While Wall Street reacted favorably to the cable sale, it punished TM's stock when it later learned about management's reinvestment plans. Shortly thereafter TM's board brought in a noted financial disciplinarian, who as CEO substantially increased stockholder value by terminating low return investments and distributing free cash flow. While pressure to pay dividends and monitoring by large block stockholders ultimately improved TM's performance, the path to this outcome was slow and circuitous, so that these disciplinary forces were weaker than theory typically implies.
Keywords: Payout policy, Controlling stockholders, Family control
JEL Classification: G35, G32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation