Ownership concentration and corporate control at the Russian companies: Empirical evidence
Researchers of the Russian economy have unanimously identified the most important features of stock ownership and control (NССG 2008: 12-16). First, the concentration of capital in the corporate sector resulting from its aggressive redistribution for more than 15 years tends to be high. Secondly, the high concentration of ownership affected the development of corporate control and evolution of the mechanisms of corporate governance. This high concentration provides the basis for control by the majority shareholder or a consolidated group of such shareholders exercised by various formal and informal means. Majority shareholders are constrained only by the need to comply with the formal legal provisions and often imitate the activities of intra-corporate tools.
The aim of this review is to classify research papers on major vs. minor shareholders conflicts and ownership concentration. These issues are closely related both to each other and to manager vs. owner conflicts. Ownership concentration is property distribution among shareholders. Ownership concentration studies consider the following questions: how many major and minor shareholders are there in the company; how many inside shareholders are there and if they are minor or major; in what way concentration influences performance of the company; what costs are associated with major vs. minor shareholders conflicts etc. The bond between ownership concentration and manager vs. owner conflict is due to the fact that often managers are major shareholders along with other owners. In such cases incentive hypothesis, entranchement hypothesis, monitoring and control costs, as well as their effect on performance, should be considered together.
This paper provides new survey evidence on effects of concentrated ownership on restructuring and performance in privatized firms in Russia. The major findings are that large-block shareholding is negatively associated with the firm's investment and performance, and this relationship does not depend on the identity of controlling shareholders. These results are consistent with the assumption that when minority shareholders' rights are not adequately protected, the entrenched controlling shareholders may be engaged in extracting ‘control premium’ before pro rata distribution of dividends. The issues raised have relevance to other transitional economies where the privatization process has been followed by an increase in ownership concentration.