We have observed the number of female directors as a key factor on board practices to measure how a company is willing to change. The table below shows the correlation analysis between the number of female directors and performance key measures such as ROE (actual), ROA (actual) and Tobin’s Q on the 1,755 companies as of March 31, 2020. We have seen the statistically significant positive correlation between ROE (actual or results) and the factor since we started the correlation analysis with BDTI in 2017. Now, the factor shows the sign of significance to ROA (actual or results) in this month, updating the data of December fiscal year end companies after AGMs.
The market price in March 2020 continued to fluctuate with high fluctuations due to concerns about the spread of the Coronavirus around the world. Approximately half of the sharp decline by mid-month recovered at the end of the month. Both Topix and JPX400 stocks have fallen sharply in March for the month of -6.46% and -6.79% respectively. The Top20 CG rating score was -6.22%, outperforming the previous month at -0.30% compared to the two main stock indices, with a lower rate of decline. By the way, the stock prices of the ten companies with the top 10 CG rating scores were -1.44%, which was even smaller.
“…the probability of the success of activism (as described above) accompanied by official requests for activity has not yet reached that of Europe and the United States but has risen to 40%. In addition, the cumulative abnormal return (CAR) when such requests are accepted is about 6%, the same as in the United States and Europe….
Finally, let us consider the keys to improving corporate governance in Japan in the future…..
“IFP’s challenge, however, highlighted weaknesses at Kirin, whose expansion has produced mixed results, analysts said. One of the director nominees recommended by IFP, corporate governance expert Nicholas Benes, won 35% of shareholders’ votes despite opposition from Kirin, suggesting some shareholders agreed the board needed more change.
I was recently asked by the Japan Society of Greater Cincinnati to give the keynote speech at their conference event on the theme of “Why Good People Do Bad Things”. I decided to liven things up a bit by attempting to answer the self-posed question: “how might we design corporations if we were inventing them today [not in 1600 -1900]… in an age of huge capital pools, global warming, and an increasing number of other large externalized risks and informational (and other) asymmetries?”
See what you think of my “concept for discussion” on pages 16-19, and my reasons for throwing it out for consideration on the earlier pages. I realize some people will think this concept is a strange and unnecessary, as if the basic legal structure of the corporation is immutable, or hoping ESG integration by itself will solve most of the problems it is concerned with. However, I suspect that in the next few decades corporate law will be evolving much more so as to address the issues and concerns that I raise… even if it addresses them in a different manner. I do not believe that the present legal form of “the corporation” itself is sustainable. Over the past 100 years, too many agency problems, market distortions, asymmetries, and externalities have emerged.
Independent Franchise Partners (IFP) has submitted a shareholder proposal nominating Kanako Kikuchi (an experienced global pharmaceutical executive) and myself as independent directors. Glass, Lewis supports electing both of us, but it seems that ISS has “split the baby” and only supports me. If investors could vote for Ms. Kikuchi as well, it would greatly help ensure that the board makes a fully informed, objective and independent assessment of the strategy on an ongoing basis.
Both of us have no past relations with IFP, and take an approach that is completely agnostic and independent of IFP’s dividend proposal. We both believe that if shareholders do not opt for that proposal, – or in any case – it is most prudent to withhold any decisions about the strategy until such time as when we are on the board and can ask questions and are privy to all internal analysis and confidential information. Therefore, we would both join the board with no pre-decision(s) made before knowing all the facts. This is the only logical position to take as a truly independent director. I have informed IFP in no uncertain terms that my philosophy and legal duty is to answer to all shareholders, and that I may well not agree with positions that IFP has taken or may take in the future. IFP has no problem with this.
Many investors may not realize that unless Ms. Kikuchi is elected, there will be no one with global biopharma experience on this board just at the time when that skill set is most needed. Given the company’s proclaimed strategy to “bridge” into health science products (which could be a good one for all I know), this is not wise and is of great concern to me.
In February 2020, prices fell sharply in the world’s major stock markets by the end of the month, fearing that the spread of the coronavirus could spread to various parts of the world. Both Topix and JPX400 stock indices have fallen sharply to -0.59% and -0.57% respectively in the month of February. The Top20 CG rating score was -0.38%, outperforming the previous month, keeping the decline rate lower than both major stock indices. The stock prices of the 10 companies with the top 10 CG rating scores fell even less, at -0.34%.
Of the CG practice, Takeover defense is one of the criteria that companies have improved since the Corporate Governance Code in June 2015. The following table shows that comparison of about the data of 1,800 Japanese companies between March 2018 and February 2020.
INEDs increased 1 company (Yamada Consulting ) to 85 (86 companies
including Toshiba) from the previous month.
significant positive correlation was found between board practices and value
creation (ROE, ROA, Tobin’s q) in the following
correlation with actual ROE)
- Ratio of female directors and
- Incentive (compensation) plan
factors and ROE achievements
Stock prices climbed in the 1H of the month on risk-on rally buoyed by hitting historical high of US market, but concern about negative impact on global economy led by coronavirus infection put downward pressure on the stocks toward the month end. TOPIX and JPX400 market indices lost -0.11% and -0.09% respectively for the month. CG Top 20 stocks soft -0.07% but outperformed against the both indices for the same period.