Chapter

Introduction

M. Becht and C. Mayer

in The Control of Corporate Europe

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780199257539
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191595905 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199257531.003.0001
 Introduction

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This chapter provides a classification of the pertinent corporate control arrangements in Europe and pulls together the results from an international study of data from the EU's Large Holdings Directive (88/627/EEC), which allows detailed analyses of the control of European corporations to be undertaken for the first time. It records high levels of concentration of control of corporations in many European countries with single blockholders frequently controlling more than 50% of corporate votes. In contrast, a majority of UK‐listed companies have no blockholder owning more than 10% of shares and a majority of US‐listed companies have no blockholder with more than 6% of shares. Distributions of voting blocks reveal that control is concentrated in forms in which regulation confers particular advantages—shareblocks are concentrated at levels at which there are significant control benefits. This suggests a relation between regulation and structure of ownership of companies that goes beyond existing ‘over‐’, ‘under‐’, or ‘optimal‐regulation’ theories.

Keywords: control; corporate governance; ownership; regulation

Chapter.  17641 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Financial Markets

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