Last week, the CII published a list of 159 directors who served on boards of 2018 & 2019 IPO companies that went public with dual-class share structures & no sunset provisions. The CII’s “Dual-Class Enablers Spreadsheet” identifies the other public boards on which these directors serve. Here’s an excerpt from the CII’s press release discussing its rationale for the “naming & shaming” approach:
“The board that brings a company to public markets with unequal voting rights is responsible for the decision to disempower public shareholders,” said CII Executive Director Ken Bertsch. “The board’s decision can be a red flag of discomfort with accountability to outside shareholders.” He said that investors “may want to raise concern about that in their engagement with other boards on which these directors serve. Some investors may choose to vote against directors of single-class companies who participated in pre-IPO board decisions to adopt dual-class equity structures without sunsets elsewhere.”
The release also says that the list may have a deterrent effect on private companies considering dual class structures. Perhaps that’s the case. After all, this is the first time that the CII has taken action that provides a potential reputational downside for the directors of these companies. But personally, I’m skeptical. I still think that companies will only be deterred from going public with dual class structures when investors finally abandon their “buy now, whine later” approach to investments in them.
-John Jenkins, TheCorporateCounsel.net, August 15, 2019