Tag: International governance


Where Women Are On Board: Perspectives from Gender Diverse Boardrooms

Diane Lerner is a Managing Partner and Christine Oberholzer Skizas is a Partner at Pay Governance LLC. This post is based on a Pay Governance memorandum.

Interest in, and momentum toward, greater diversity in the boardrooms of U.S. publicly traded companies is increasing. We believe this is due to a combination of international developments, workplace trends and investor sentiment.

Although all aspects of diversity are meaningful topics, this post is solely focused on gender diversity. Currently, females represent approximately 15% of outside board member seats in the S&P 1500 and about 18% of the S&P 500 seats. This equates to a median of 1-2 female board members in a group of 9-11 board members.

While the overall statistics for U.S. companies are regularly reported, relatively little has been written about those U.S. public company boards that have moved farther down the path of gender diversity. For the purpose of our review, we define “gender diverse” at 30% female directors or more, using a standard typical in countries who have enacted legislation. Assuming more companies will want to reach a 30%+ level of gender diversity over the next decade, we wanted to study companies that have already achieved this level. We wanted to identify any specific similar characteristics that can be found at these companies and to learn more through selected interviews about the paths to a gender diverse board.

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Employment Protection and Takeovers

Andrey Golubov is Assistant Professor of Finance at Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. This post is based on an article by Professor Golubov; Olivier Dessaint, Assistant Professor of Finance at Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto; and Paolo Volpin, Professor of Finance at Cass Business School, City University London.

Cost reductions in the pursuit of economies of scale and scope are commonly believed to be a major driver—and a key source of synergies—in corporate takeovers. Restructuring the workforce, largely in the form of layoffs, is presumed to be one of the primary channels through which such cost reductions are obtained. However, despite the central role of labor force issues in takeovers, there is no systematic empirical evidence on the importance of workforce restructuring as a driver of the market for corporate control and as a source of merger synergies. This is partly because labor regulations are largely uniform within countries, and any cross-country variation comes with a host of other pertinent differences. Our new paper, entitled Employment Protection and Takeovers, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, fills this void and provides the first systematic evidence on the link between labor regulation and takeovers.

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The UK’s Final Bonus Compensation Rule

Dan Ryan is Leader of the Financial Services Advisory Practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. This post is based on a PwC publication by Mr. Ryan, Roozbeh Alavi, Mike Alix, Adam Gilbert, and Armen Meyer. Related research from the Program on Corporate Governance includes Regulating Bankers’ Pay by Lucian Bebchuk and Holger Spamann (discussed on the Forum here); The Wages of Failure: Executive Compensation at Bear Stearns and Lehman 2000-2008 by Lucian Bebchuk, Alma Cohen, and Holger Spamann; and How to Fix Bankers’ Pay by Lucian Bebchuk.

On June 23rd, the UK’s Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) [1] finalized a joint bonus compensation rule that was proposed last July. While the industry (including subsidiaries and branches of US banks in the UK) had hoped for a more lenient approach, the final rule generally retains the proposal’s stringent requirements, especially with respect to bonus deferral periods and clawbacks. [2]

The rule applies to “senior managers” [3] and other “material risk takers” [4] at UK banks and certain investment firms. As finalized, the rule establishes the toughest regulatory approach to bonus compensation of any major jurisdiction, going beyond the EU-wide CRD IV. [5] Therefore, unless regulators in other major jurisdictions take a similar approach, institutions that are active in the UK are placed at a competitive disadvantage compared to their peers elsewhere.

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The Next Frontier for Boards, Oversight of Risk Culture

Matteo Tonello is managing director of corporate leadership at The Conference Board. This post relates to an issue of The Conference Board’s Director Notes series authored by Parveen P. Gupta and Tim Leech. The complete publication, including footnotes and Appendix, is available here.

Over the past 15 years expectations for board oversight have skyrocketed. In 2002 the Sarbanes-Oxley Act put the spotlight on board oversight of financial reporting. The 2008 global financial crisis focused regulatory attention on the need to improve board oversight of management’s risk appetite and tolerance. Most recently, in the wake of a number of high-profile personal data breaches, questions are being asked about board oversight of cyber-security, the newest risk threatening companies’ long term success. This post provides a primer on the next frontier for boards: oversight of “risk culture.”

Weak “risk culture” has been diagnosed as the root cause of many large and, in the words of the Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White, “egregious” corporate governance failures. Deficient risk and control management processes, IT security, and unreliable financial reporting are increasingly seen as mere symptoms of a “bad” or “deficient” risk culture. The new challenge that corporate directors face is how to diagnose and oversee the company’s risk culture and what actions to take if it is found to be deficient.

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Fed’s Volcker Relief for Foreign Funds

Dan Ryan is Leader of the Financial Services Advisory Practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. This post is based on a PwC publication by Mr. Ryan, David Harpest, Scott Levine, and Armen Meyer.

On Friday, June 12, 2015, the Federal Reserve (Fed) began addressing the question of whether foreign funds should be considered “banking entities” under the Bank Holding Company Act (BHCA), and therefore be subject to the Volcker Rule’s proprietary trading restriction. The Fed’s guidance (provided in the form of a “Frequently Asked Question,” or FAQ) clarifies that foreign public funds (e.g., UCITS [1]) will not be considered banking entities merely due to their boards being controlled by an affiliate (i.e., an affiliate within the BHC capable of holding a majority of a fund’s director seats). [2]

However, with only weeks to go before the July 21, 2015 deadline, the FAQ does not resolve two other questions that have vexed foreign banks regarding the application of “banking entity” to foreign funds. First, the board control provision still applies to foreign private funds (i.e., foreign funds that are privately offered to institutional or high net worth investors in a manner similar to US hedge fund offerings). Second, another BHCA provision which establishes control when 25% or more of a fund’s voting shares are owned by an affiliate still applies to foreign private funds, and to a lesser extent to foreign public funds.

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Regulatory Arbitrage and Cross-Border Bank Acquisitions

Alvaro Taboada is an Assistant Professor of Finance at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. This post is based on an article by Professor Taboada and Andrew Karolyi, Professor of Finance at Cornell University.

In our forthcoming Journal of Finance paper, Regulatory Arbitrage and Cross-Border Bank Acquisitions, we examine how differences in bank regulation influence cross-border bank acquisition flows and share price reactions to cross-border deal announcements. The recent global financial crisis, caused in part by systemic failures in bank regulation, has sparked, among other things, a strong push for both stricter capital requirements and greater international coordination in regulation. For example, seven of the 10 recommendations of the 2011 Report of the Cross-Border Bank Resolution Group of the Basel Committee for Banking Supervision (BCBS) propose greater coordination of national measures to deal with the increasingly important cross-border activities of banks. Some argue this push for tougher regulations and increased restrictions on bank activities may create incentives for “regulatory arbitrage,” whereby banks from countries with strict regulations engage in cross-border activities in countries with weaker regulations. The purpose of the study is to shed light on the motives behind regulatory arbitrage by examining one of the most important types of investment decisions that banks can make—namely, cross-border acquisitions.

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SEC Re-Proposes Rules on Arranging, Negotiating or Executing Security-Based Swaps

Annette Nazareth is a partner in the Financial Institutions Group at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, and a former commissioner at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The following post is based on a Davis Polk client memorandum; the complete publication, including appendices, is available here.

On May 13, 2015, the SEC published proposed amendments and re-proposed rules on the application of certain Title VII requirements to cross-border security-based swap activities of non-U.S. persons based on U.S. conduct. The proposed rules would modify numerous prior SEC proposals and final rules, including the May 2013 proposed rules on the cross-border application of security-based swap regulations, the August 2014 final cross-border definitions and de minimis rules and the March 2015 reporting final rules. [1]

Notably, the proposed rules would:

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Quality Data and the Power of Prevention

Kara M. Stein is a Commissioner at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. This post is based on Commissioner Stein’s recent address at Meet the Market North America, available here. The views expressed in the post are those of Commissioner Stein and do not necessarily reflect those of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the other Commissioners, or the Staff.

As many of you know, I care passionately about the success of the Legal Entity Identifier (or LEI).

With the financial crisis in the rear view mirror, it is sometimes easy to forget the forces that converged in 2007 and harmed both our financial markets and our economy. The events of 2008 are indelibly etched into my memory. I remember when many of our country’s economic leaders began closed-door briefings with members of Congress. Concerned about the unfolding financial crisis, the Chair of the Federal Reserve and the Secretary of Treasury plead for help and for an unprecedented financial intervention to stave off another Great Depression. They wanted tools to protect our nation from powerful forces that were pulling the financial system deeper and deeper into distress and potential chaos. At the edge of the abyss, our economic and policy leaders developed a strategy to stabilize our financial system and unlock the halting credit markets. [1]

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Brain Drain or Brain Gain? Evidence from Corporate Boards

Mariassunta Giannetti is Professor of Economics at the Stockholm School of Economics. This post is based on an article by Professor Giannetti; Guanmin Liao, Associate Professor of Accounting at the School of Accountancy, Central University of Finance and Economics; and Xiaoyun Yu, Associate Professor of Finance at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Development economists have long warned about the costs for developing countries of the emigration of the best and brightest that decamp to universities and businesses in the developed world (Bhagwati, 1976). While this brain drain has attracted a considerable amount of economic research, more recently, arguments have been raised that the emigration of the brightest may actually benefit developing countries, because emigrants may eventually return with more knowledge and organizational skills. (See The Economist, May 26, 2011.) Thus, the brain drain may actually become a brain gain.

In our paper, Brain Drain or Brain Gain? Evidence from Corporate Boards, forthcoming in the Journal of Finance, we demonstrate a specific channel through which the brain gain arising from return migration to emerging markets may benefit the overall economy: the brain gain in the corporate boards of publicly listed companies. Specifically, we highlight the effects of individuals with foreign experience joining the boards of directors on firms’ performance and corporate policies in China.

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Foreign Institutional Ownership and the Global Convergence of Financial Reporting

Vivian Fang is an Assistant Professor of Accounting at the University of Minnesota. This post based on an article by Professor Fang, Mark Maffett, Assistant Professor of Accounting at the University of Chicago, and Bohui Zhang, Associate Professor at the School of Banking and Finance, University of New South Wales.

In our recent paper, Foreign Institutional Ownership and the Global Convergence of Financial Reporting Practices, forthcoming in the Journal of Accounting Research, we examine the role of foreign institutional investors in the global convergence of financial reporting practices. Regulators frequently espouse comparability as a desirable characteristic of financial reporting to facilitate investment decision-making and allocation of capital. Over the past 15 years, significant regulatory effort has gone into promoting comparability, the most prominent example of which is the International Accounting Standards Board’s (IASB) push for global adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). However, recent research (e.g., Daske, Hail, Leuz, and Verdi [2008], Christensen, Hail, and Leuz [2013]) shows that mandating the use of a common set of accounting standards alone is unlikely to achieve financial reporting convergence.

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