Shareholders’ Say on Pay: Does it Create Value?

This post comes to us from Jie Cai and Ralph A. Walkling of Drexel University.

We have recently released a new paper entitled Shareholders’ Say on Pay: Does it Create Value? The paper examines stock returns around the time of the passage of the Say on Pay Bill in the House of Representatives in search of evidence whether the market views the legislation as creating value. The Abstract of the piece follows:

The post Sarbanes-Oxley Act period is associated with several initiatives designed to give shareholders a greater voice in the boardroom. The latest of these initiatives is the Say-on-Pay Bill (H.R. 1257) which passed the House of Representatives on April 20, 2007 by a 2 to 1 margin. This bill does not limit CEO pay but requires an advisory shareholder vote on executive compensation packages. Using the abnormal return of 1,245 firms surrounding the House passage of this bill, we examine whether the market interprets shareholders’ say on executive pay as adding or subtracting firm value. Stocks of firms with positive abnormal CEO compensation react in a significant, positive manner to the Say-on-Pay Bill. The positive market reaction is stronger among the firms with weaker, but not the weakest governance. In addition, abnormal returns are higher in the subset of firms more likely to receive higher disapproval votes from shareholders and firms more likely to implement changes under the pressure of shareholder votes. Thus, the bill has the greatest impact among the subset of firms most likely to benefit and implement changes. Given the uncertainty surrounding passage, implementation and efficacy of this proposed advisory vote, the results are likely to understate the actual impact of Say on Pay legislation. Our findings suggest that the market views this legislation as value-creating for the companies where it is likely to have the most impact. These results provide important evidence for the current debate regarding the Say-on-Pay legislation in Congress and shareholder access to proxy. Our results also shed light on the role of activist investors.

The full Article is available for download here.

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