Who Controls Us?
37 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2003
Berle and Means focused US analysis of corporate governance on the separation of ownership from control, asserting that US corporations typically have many dispersed shareholders, leaving managers in control. Yet, of the largest 200 US corporations, they had firm evidence of managerial control for only 44 (and 4 out of 106 industrial corporations). We trace the controlling shareholders of all US listed corporations. At the 10 percent control threshold, 59.74 percent have controlling shareholders; 24.57 percent are controlled and managed by a family (the same percentage as in Asia); 16.33 percent are controlled by a widely-held financial institution (close to the percentage in Europe and Asia); 13.55 percent are controlled through family trusts. In the top 30, top 250, top 500 and in every quintile range, the US has more corporations controlled by families than by financial institutions. In almost all these size ranges (defined by the US size thresholds), it has a higher percentage of family-controlled corporations than any of next four largest economies. We interpret these results in terms of regulatory restrictions on bank control of corporations, the agency problems faced by shareholders and the quality of shareholder protection.
Keywords: Corporate Governance, Ownership Structure
JEL Classification: G32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation