PRI Publishes “Japan Roadmap” Regarding Fiduciary Duty in Japan

PRI published a “Japan Roadmap” suggesting improvements in Japan regarding fiduciary duty and ESG practices. (http://bit.ly/2pmrbus)  The Roadmap cited BDTI’s recent joint research with METRICAL with regard to our analysis showing that lower cross-shareholders correlate with better corporate performance.

Quote from the PRI’s introduction of the Roadmap: “Japan’s governance reforms will fail unless more asset owners join in, and all the talk about stewardship is accompanied by analysis, action and sweat,” said Nicholas Benes, representative director, The Board Director Training Institute of Japan. “The Japan Roadmap makes sensible recommendations to turn governance goals into realities.”

(Orrick) – “Corporate Governance Features for Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay Area Public Companies”

(17-page report  Ed Batts, Global Chair of Orrick’s M&A and Private Equity group.)   – ”Corporate governance features have Executive Summary become increasingly prominent for public companies. This has accelerated as economic-oriented activist investors team with institutional investors to serve as catalysts for change. We are often asked by clients in the course of our practice:

What do other companies do?

We thought it would be useful to compare the three primary governance documents – certificate/ articles of incorporation, bylaws and corporate governance guidelines – of Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay Area publicly traded companies.

We focused on three general areas:
• Board of Directors
• Shareholder Actions
• General Provisions

Attribution Analysis of Change in CG Scores 09/2015-09/2016

Titlis has updated corporate its governance ratings for 500 major public companies in Japan as of September 2016. The CG scores improved 3/100 pts from a year ago,  steadily but at a slower pace than expectations at the inception of Corporate Governance Code. According to the attribution analysis of the changes in CG scores for a year, the category (factor) of the Board of Directors was the largest contributor and the categories of Incentive of Remuneration, Takeover Defense, and Share Cancellation also inched up scores.

Cross-shareholdings should be considered the effect of share price plunges. The resolution of cross-share holding is extremely slow. We should keep eyes on enhancement of CG.
http://www.titlisgroup.com/mwbhpwp/wp-content/uploads/CGR-attribution20161008.pdf

”Do Institutional Investors Demand Public Disclosure?” by Stephen A. Karolyi and Andrew Bird

”Do institutional investors demand corporate disclosure? A central question in finance and accounting is whether corporate transparency benefits or hurts investors. This issue is complicated by the fact that information provision could affect groups of investors differentially. Public information may crowd out the private information advantage of some institutional investors; alternatively, investors, particularly those following more passive trading strategies, may not be information sensitive. However, even passive institutional investors may benefit from an increase in monitoring by other stakeholders following improved disclosure. Further, regardless of the preferences of institutional investors, whether or not they are able to affect corporate policy on this margin is unclear. This tradeoff is reflected in mixed empirical evidence on the relationship between institutional ownership and corporate disclosure.

To address this tradeoff faced by institutional investors, we analyze the revealed preference for corporate disclosure by institutional investors and the associated impact on the information content of corporate disclosure. Empirically, identifying a causal effect of institutional ownership on corporate disclosure policy is difficult because experimental settings and direct measures of corporate disclosure quantity and characteristics are scarce. We propose a two-part solution to these problems. First, we utilize exogenous changes in institutional ownership around Russell 2000 index reconstitutions in a regression discontinuity design to identify the effect of institutional ownership on corporate disclosure policy. Second, we directly measure the characteristics of corporate disclosure using a novel data set composed of all 8-K filings between 1996 and 2006.

Discussion Paper by Hideaki Miyajima et al : ”Does Ownership Really Matter?: The Role of Foreign Investors in Corporate Governance in Japan”

”Abstract. After the banking crisis of 1997, corporate ownership in Japan shifted from an insider-dominated to an outsider-dominated structure. This paper analyzes the impact of dramatic changes in the ownership structure on corporate governance and firm value, focusing on the role of foreign institutional investors. There are two competing views on the role of increased foreign ownership. The positive view is that foreign investors have had high monitoring capability, and encourage improvements in the governance arrangement of firms, resulting in higher performance.

”Third Point’s Successful Shareholder Activism a Sign of Progress in Japanese Corporate Governance”

”Historically, shareholder activism has rarely been successful at Japanese companies. However, as Japan moves closer to a Western model of corporate governance, shareholders may be playing a larger role in the strategy and leadership of some Japanese companies. This has recently been exemplified by the apparent influence of Daniel Loeb, from the hedge fund Third Point, on the leadership of Seven & i Holdings (“the Company”), which holds its annual general meeting on Thursday, May 26.

Discussion Paper by Miyajima & Ogawa: ”Convergence or Emerging Diversity? Understanding the impact of foreign investors on corporate governance in Japan”

”Abstract: The increasing share of foreign institutional investors has been a global phenomenon for the past few decades. Corporate ownership in Japan shifted from an insider‐dominated to outsider‐dominated structure after the banking crisis of 1997. On the role of increasing foreign ownership and its consequences, there are two competing views. The first view, or convergence view, is that foreign investors have high monitoring capability, and encourage improvements in the governance arrangements of firms, resulting in higher performance. Conversely, the skeptical view insists that they have a strong bias in their investment strategies and are less committed to a firm. Even though a correlation between foreign ownership and corporate polices and high performance could be observed, it could be superficial. Higher stock returns can be induced by their order demand, while performance can simply reflect foreign investors’ preference for high quality firms. To answer which view is more persuasive, this paper analyzes the impact of dramatic changes in the ownership structure on corporate governance, corporate policies, and firm value, with a focus on the role of foreign investors, particularly in Japan…………..”

”CalSTRS, GPIF coming together to tackle corporate governance issues”

This informal coalition that seems to be coming into being between the GPIF, CalSTRS, and CalPERS would be a big step ahead in terms of discussions to increase the effectiveness of engagement by not only these organizations, but also their fund managers and other market players.  Kudos to all three institutions, and also Mr. Mizuno, for moving in this direction.