The Lifecycle Theory of Dual-Class Structures

36 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2018 Last revised: 21 Dec 2018

See all articles by Lucian A. Bebchuk

Lucian A. Bebchuk

Harvard Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) and European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Kobi Kastiel

Tel Aviv University - Buchmann Faculty of Law; Harvard Law School, Program on Corporate Governance

Date Written: December 2018

Abstract

This academic presentation, based on our joint work on dual-class structures, was delivered by Lucian Bebchuk as his keynote address to the December 2018 ECGI-BIU conference on differential voting structures. The presentation focuses on the lifecycle theory of dual-class structure introduced in Bebchuk and Kastiel, The Untenable Case for Perpetual Dual-Class Stock, 2017 (https://ssrn.com/abstract=2954630). The presentation begins with discussion of precursor works to, and the motivation for developing, the lifecycle theory. The presentation then proceeds to describing the elements of the theory. In particular, it explains the reasons for expecting the efficiency benefits of dual-class structures to decline over time; for the efficiency costs to increase over time; and for controllers to choose to retain a dual-class structure even when it ceases to be efficient.

The presentation also discusses a number of cases that vividly illustrate arguments advanced by the lifecycle theory. Among cases discussed are dual-class companies Viacom, CBS, and Facebook, as well as single-class companies Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo!. We also explain that time-based sunsets can address the identified problems, and we discuss the design of, and objections to, such sunsets. Finally, we discuss the influence that our lifecycle theory has had on subsequent policy discourse and on empirical work testing the theory’s predictions. The presentation concludes that the lifecycle theory has solid theoretical foundations and is confirmed by recent empirical testing. We hope that the lifecycle theory that we introduced will continue to prove useful for researchers and policymakers and to contribute to the adoption of dual-class sunsets.

Keywords: dual-class stock, controlling shareholders, agency costs, entrenchment, short-termism, sunsets

JEL Classification: G32, G34, K22

Suggested Citation

Bebchuk, Lucian A. and Kastiel, Kobi, The Lifecycle Theory of Dual-Class Structures (December 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3300841 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3300841

Lucian A. Bebchuk (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-3138 (Phone)
617-812-0554 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.harvard.edu/faculty/bebchuk/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) and European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Kobi Kastiel

Tel Aviv University - Buchmann Faculty of Law ( email )

Ramat Aviv
Tel Aviv 69978, IL
Israel

HOME PAGE: http://https://en-law.tau.ac.il/profile/kastiel

Harvard Law School, Program on Corporate Governance ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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