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Alberto Onetti ORCID logo, Alessia Pisoni ORCID logo



This paper aims to analyse the relationships (equity and non-equity) between German banks and German firms, which are the peculiarities of the German institutional system of corporate governance. Scholars agree on the fact that cross shareholdings among banks, insurance companies and institutional firms (Charkham 1994, Baums 1993), combined with long term shareholdings (Gerschenkron 1989), and close relationships and interlocking between board members of different companies (Tilly 1969, Hopt and Prigge 1998), are the main features of bank-firms relationships in Germany. Specifically the main purpose of the paper is to demonstrate, for the panel of German companies investigated, that bank-firm relationship relies not only on patrimonial linkages but also on personal relationships. In the light of the sweeping changes that this model has undergone since the late 1990s, an empirical study has been carried out regarding relationships (patrimonial and personal) among the first 100 German companies with the highest turnover and the 6 main German financial institutions, showing the evolving trend along a period of 8 years and comparing the collected data with previous research. Therefore, in order to try to measure the extent of the banks role in Corporate Governance and to evaluate in a deeper sense the effective influence they have on the industry management, we carried out two different analyses. The first, takes into consideration the equity relationships between banks/insurances and the German industrial firms, the second analyses the number of seats held by the same banks in the correspondent supervisory board. In particular, in our opinion, the analysis of the composition of the supervisory boards can help to outline the personal relationships above mentioned. Therefore is understood, that we consider the presence of bank’s representatives in others than banks’ supervisory boards as signal of banks’ opportunity to exert power and influence.

Keywords: Corporate Governance, Interlocking, Cross-Shareholdings

How to cite this paper: Onetti, A., & Pisoni, A. (2009). Ownership and control in Germany: do cross-shareholdings reflect bank control on large companies?. Corporate Ownership & Control, 6(4), 54-77. https://doi.org/10.22495/cocv6i4p6