CORPORATE GOVERNANCE IN ITALY AFTER THE 1998 REFORM: WHAT ROLE FOR INSTITUTIONAL INVESTORS?

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Marcello Bianchi, Luca Enriques

DOI:10.22495/cocv2i4p1

Abstract

This paper tries to answer two questions: first, whether the changes in the law resulting from the 1998 reform are able to positively affect the attitude to activism of institutional investors in Italy; and second, whether, legal rules aside, it is reasonable to expect significant institutional investor activism in Italy. We provide both an empirical analysis of the factors affecting institutional investor activism in Italy and a legal analysis of the most relevant changes in the Italian mutual funds and corporate laws, following the 1998 reform. The empirical analysis shows that institutional shareholdings and investment strategies are compatible with the hypothesis that institutional investors can play a significant role in the corporate governance of Italian listed companies. However, a curb to their playing such an active role may derive from the predominance of mutual fund management companies belonging to banking groups (giving rise to conflicts of interest) and from the prevailing ownership structure of listed companies, which are still dominated by controlling shareholders holding stakes higher than, or close to, the majority of the capital (implying a weaker bargaining power of institutions vis-à-vis controllers). The analysis of the legal changes prompted by the 1998 financial markets and corporate law reform indicates that the legal environment is now definitely more favorable to institutional investor activism than before. However, the Italian legal environment proves still to be little favorable to institutional investor activism, when compared to that of the U.S. or the U.K.

Keywords: Corporate Control, Institutional Investors, Legal Rules, Italian Companies

How to cite this paper: Bianchi, M., & Enriques, L. (2005). Corporate governance in Italy after the 1998 reform: What role for institutional investors? Corporate Ownership & Control, 2(4), 11-31. http://doi.org/10.22495/cocv2i4p1