Protecting interest of the minority Shareholders

Topics: Stock, Stock market, Corporation Pages: 5 (1633 words) Published: January 15, 2014
Protecting interest of the minority Shareholders

M S Siddiqui
Legal Economist and pursuing PhD in Open University, Malaysia e-mail:

The over-investment by directors is not good for the stock market and it should be addressed properly to find a way out and safeguard interest of minority shareholders from the experience of other markets, writes M S Siddiqui……………….

In Asian countries including Bangladesh, the controlling ownership of public listed companies are dominated by some families. The problem of minority exploitation may arise when the ownership is highly concentrated in any specific group, especially family ownership. One of the consequences of this is the expropriation of minority shareholder rights.

Apart from family control another limitation of principles of corporate law is the principle of majority rule, sometimes called the “supremacy of majority” rule. Those who invested more in the company bear a greater risk in the event of a business failure, but simultaneously they have a greater degree of control over the company. There is certainly a risk that the majority will take advantage of the minority and that a company will be run at the expense of the minority shareholders.

Any decision of Annual general meeting (AGM) adapted by majority vote and directors are appointed and may be removed from the office at any time by a simple majority at the general meeting. Thus, the directors are motivated to act in the best interests of the majority who appointed them and who may remove them.

Minority shareholder rights expropriation occurred when family ownership directed cash to their own benefit, inefficient projects and connected lending to relatives and friends rather than return it in dividends to minority shareholders. Other expropriation can take the form of profit reallocation, assets misuse, transfer pricing, sell below the market price departments or parts of the firm to other firms that major shareholders own, or acquisition of other firms that major shareholders own at a premium. The majority shareholders treats the company as his own, and acts accordingly, to the detriment of the other shareholders, or where there is a breakdown in the relationship of the shareholders or any of their number, which gives rise to questions about the future ownership and control of the Company. On the other hand, where a single or small number of shareholders hold a substantial block of shares in the company, say, in excess of 25% of the voting rights, securing managerial accountability to the shareholders or at least to the controlling shareholders through the traditional governance mechanisms of company law can dominate the company. In some situation, the ‘non-controlling’ shareholders may collectively hold more voting shares than the ‘controlling’ shareholders. However, if the non-controlling shares are widely dispersed, effective control of the company will lie in the hands of the block-holder, even if that block consists of less than 50% of the voting shares. The shareholder providing the majority of the capital may sometimes not control the company. In such a case the majority shareholder is effectively in a minority position with regard to the exercising of controlling rights. The emergence of such a situations are the principal/agent problem between the controlling shareholders and the non-controlling ‘minority’ shareholders.

The corporate management law and policy must have protection of interest of the minority shareholders. The general purpose of minority protection instruments is to prevent the abuse of power by the major shareholders. There is not an easy solution, to the problem, since the principle of majority rule, in company law and other rules of regulators. It is a long established principle of corporate law that the regulators and courts should not intervene in business decisions due to the...
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