Small Shareholder Participation in European AGMs
Partly published in: Lafarre, Anne (2017). The AGM in Europe: Theory and practice of shareholder behaviour: Emerald Group Publishing
Conference working paper European Association of Law and Economics, (EALE, London 2017).
47 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2018
Date Written: July 31, 2017
This study investigates an important but under-researched topic in Europe, the small shareholder turnout decision. We assess which factors contribute to (small) shareholder participation using a hand-collected panel dataset with information about turnout rates, voting behaviour, and ownership structures of companies that are listed in seven European Member States. We document how ownership concentration positively affects total shareholder turnout, but has a negative effect on small shareholder turnout. Voting power also affects small turnout rates: the greater small shareholder voting power, the greater their eagerness to vote. In addition, total and small shareholder turnout is higher the more important the meeting agenda. And, small shareholders tend to free-ride on large institutional shareholders and corporate insiders, but the magnitude of the free-rider effect is larger for the latter category of blockholders. Our results provide some important insights for the debate on shareholder rights and the role of the AGM in corporate governance. The results show that, despite the criticism, the AGM still plays a role in small shareholder monitoring. Some topics seem to clearly motivate small shareholders to attend, while others are less relevant. Policy makers can stimulate shareholder monitoring by focusing on the factors that determined in this study.
Keywords: corporate governance, shareholder activism, shareholder rights, corporate ownership
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