Tag: China

Reputation Concerns of Independent Directors

Wei Jiang is Professor of Finance at Columbia University. This post is based on an article authored by Professor Jiang; Hualin Wan, Associate Professor of Accounting at Shanghai Lixin University of Commerce; and Shan Zhao, Assistant Professor of Finance at Grenoble Ecole de Management.

Across the major world markets, institutional investors, stock exchanges and regulators have pushed publically listed firms to increase the number of independent directors on their boards. By 2013, 80% of directors of the S&P 1500 firms are independent, according to RiskMetric. Such a trend reflects a common belief that independent directors are effective monitors of management since they are not formally connected to firm insiders nor do they have material business relationship with the firm. However, it is unclear what incentivizes independent directors to monitor and potentially confront management, given that they are not significant shareholders, do not receive performance-sensitive compensation, and often owe their appointment to the managers they monitor.


Comparative Corporate Law Casebook

Marco Ventoruzzo is a comparative business law scholar with a joint appointment with the Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson School of Law and Bocconi University.

Comparative Corporate Law is at the center of the scholarly debate, has a growing practical importance, and has become a staple course offered by most law schools and universities around the world, often in English independently of their location. The theoretical and practical reasons for this development are too obvious and well-known to be listed here. Yet there are few teaching resources that offer a systematic, in-depth, but also enjoyable analysis of the subject.

With our new book, Comparative Corporate Law (West Academic Press, 2015), we have tried to fill this gap. The book has been designed to be used in different legal systems and for different courses, primarily for law students, but not only: also students of business administration, economics, political science and international relationships might benefit from it. The book can be used in the basic course on corporations, as a complement to add a comparative and international dimension, and it can—more likely—be used in an upper-division course specifically dedicated to Comparative Corporate Law, or similar courses (Comparative Corporate Governance, Comparative Business Law, Comparative Corporate Finance, etc.).


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.


Freeing Trapped Cash in Cross-Border Deals

John Olson is a founding partner of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Washington, D.C. office and a visiting professor at the Georgetown Law Center. This post is based on a Gibson Dunn alert.

In private company transactions, dealmakers often spend significant amounts of time talking about how to treat the cash held by an acquisition target. For example, if the buyer and the seller are negotiating price on the assumption that the target will be sold on a cash-free, debt-free basis, how does the purchase price get adjusted for cash that the target continues to hold at the time of closing? If the deal includes a working capital adjustment, how will cash and cash equivalents be taken into account? What are the procedures for measuring how much cash the target holds at closing?

In cross-border deals, the issues about how to deal with target cash often become significantly more complex. Businesses that operate around the world may have cash in several different countries. Regulatory and tax concerns may limit both the seller’s and the buyer’s ability to transfer cash held by the target from one country to another. Questions about how to deal with the target’s cash must be answered with these constraints in mind.

The balance of this post discusses some of the solutions that buyers and sellers use to resolve trapped cash issues in cross-border deals.


The Informational Role of Internet-Based Short Sellers

The following post comes to us from Lei Chen of the Department of Accounting at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Despite serious concerns about the quality of auditing and financial reporting of U.S.-listed Chinese firms, the SEC and the PCAOB have been unable to provide sufficient or timely information to U.S. investors due to resource constraints, the confidentiality rules underlying the PCAOB disciplinary proceedings, and no access to relevant work papers of Chinese auditors. In the paper, The Informational Role of Internet-Based Short Sellers, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, I focus on a new breed of information intermediary, i.e. Internet-based short sellers that have emerged in response to such regulatory loopholes and severe information asymmetry. Based on hand-collected Internet reports released during the 2009-2012 period by short sellers that target U.S.-listed Chinese firms, I find that these short sellers provide substantial information both directly and indirectly to investors.


Spin-Off and Listing by Introduction of Feishang Anthracite Resources Limited

The following post comes to us from Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, and is based on a Sullivan & Cromwell publication by William Y. Chua, Kung-Wei Liu, and Kenny Chiu.

China Natural Resources, Inc. (“CHNR”), a natural resources company based in the People’s Republic of China (the “PRC”) with shares listed on the NASDAQ Capital Market, recently completed the spin-off (the “Spin-Off”) and listing by introduction (the “Listing by Introduction”) on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (the “Hong Kong Stock Exchange”) of its wholly-owned subsidiary, Feishang Anthracite Resources Limited (“Feishang Anthracite”), which operated CHNR’s coal mining and related businesses prior to the Spin-Off. [1] S&C represented CHNR and Feishang Anthracite in connection with the Spin-Off and Listing by Introduction, which is the first-of-its-kind where a U.S.-listed company successfully spun off and listed shares of its businesses on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, including advising on the U.S. and Hong Kong legal issues that arose in connection with this transaction.


Independent Directors’ Dissent on Boards

The following post comes to us from Tarun Khanna and Juan Ma, both of the Strategy Unit at Harvard Business School.

Independent directors are an integral part of corporate governance. Despite the copious scholarly debates surrounding board independence, little progress has been made in studying the inner workings of public boards. Taking China as an empirical site, in our paper, Independent Directors’ Dissent on Boards: Evidence from Listed Companies in China, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, we offer one of the first statistical investigations of the circumstances under which so-called “independent” directors voice their independent views. Unlike most of the previous models that view boards as a monolithic entity that “shares a common agenda on all matters” (Hermalin and Weisbach, 2003), our data allow us to see boards as consisting of individuals with different utility functions and to examine board behaviors at the individual director level. We view this as the first step in a long research journey.


The Sensitivity of Corporate Cash Holdings to Corporate Governance

Katherine Schipper is a Professor of Accounting at Duke University.

In the paper, The Sensitivity of Corporate Cash Holdings to Corporate Governance, forthcoming in the Review of Financial Studies, my co-authors (Qi Chen, Xiao Chen, Yongxin Xu, and Jian Xue) and I analyze the change in cash holdings of a large sample of Chinese-listed firms associated with the split share structure reform that required nontradable shares held by controlling shareholders to be converted to tradable shares, subject to shareholder approval and adequate compensation to tradable shareholders. The reform removed a substantial market friction and gave controlling shareholders a clear incentive to care about share prices, because they could benefit from share value increases by selling some of their shares for cash.

We predict and find that this governance improvement led to reduced cash holdings of affected firms, and that the effect is more pronounced for private firms than for state-owned enterprises (SOEs), for firms with more agency conflicts, and for firms for which financial constraints are most binding. We interpret these results as consistent with both a direct free cash flow channel and an indirect financial constraint channel. These results are robust to several alternative specifications that address concerns about endogeneity and concomitant effects. They provide strong evidence that governance arrangements affect firms’ cash holdings and cash management behaviors. To the extent that cash management is a key operational decision that affects firm value, our findings suggest an important mechanism for corporate governance to affect firm value.


Reform Needed in China’s Fund Business

Editor’s Note: Robert Pozen is a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. This post is based on an article by Mr. Pozen that originally appeared in the Financial Times.

I recently returned from a trip to Beijing, where I launched the Mandarin translation of a book that I co-authored with Theresa Hamacher entitled The Fund Industry: How Your Money is Managed.

The book was translated because the Chinese fund industry is expanding rapidly; Chinese mutual funds were introduced in 2001 yet held over $340bn in assets by the end of 2011.

However, the future development of the Chinese fund industry faces a stiff headwind. In China, most retail investors buy mutual funds hoping to score a quick short-term gain, rather than to generate long-term returns. The high turnover is usually costly to investors and stunts the development of the fund industry.

The short-term mentality of Chinese investors is reinforced by the fund industry, which spews forth an incredible number of new funds each year. Though fewer than 1,000 mutual funds exist in China, the industry launched 136 new funds in 2010 alone.

This flood of new funds is partly caused by large up-front commissions on fund sales paid to distributors, who also receive smaller fees on an annual basis. To collect these up-front commissions, distributors hype the new funds and investors rush to buy. But these investors hold for a relatively short time – until the next wave of new funds.

As a result, there are very few large funds in China that attract assets through long-term performance. One helpful reform would be to reduce up-front commissions on fund sales and put more emphasis on annual trailer fees that are collected only as long as shareholders remain in the fund.


The Need for Both Strong Regulators and Strong Laws

The following paper comes to us from Mark Humphery-Jenner of the Australian School of Business at the University of New South Wales.

In the paper, The Need for Both Strong Regulators and Strong Laws: Evidence from a Natural Experiment, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, I analyze whether strong law is effective in the presence of weak regulatory institutions. This is a live-issue for policy setters as they attempt to reform the financial system to prevent future market misconduct. This has become particularly relevant as the EU has attempted to reform securities laws under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID), and the regulation of financial markets in the US has sustained recent criticism. I use a difference-in-difference methodology to disentangle the effects of the design of news laws from their actual implementation, and I find that strong law in the presence of weak regulations might actually worsen market conditions. This provides additional empirical support for the prediction in Bhattacharya and Daouk (2009) that ‘no law’ can sometimes be better than ‘good law’. This also suggests that empirical law and finance work should carefully distinguish between the mere presence of laws, and their enforcement.