Who Writes the Rules for Hostile Takeovers, and Why? The Peculiar Divergence of US and UK Takeover Regulation
74 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2006 Last revised: 10 Dec 2018
Date Written: 2007
Hostile takeovers are commonly thought to play a key role in rendering managers accountable to dispersed shareholders in the Anglo-American system of corporate governance. Yet surprisingly little attention has been paid to the very significant differences in takeover regulation between the two most prominent jurisdictions. In the UK, defensive tactics by target managers are prohibited, whereas Delaware law gives US managers a good deal of room to maneuver. Existing accounts of this difference focus on alleged pathologies in competitive federalism in the US. In contrast, we focus on the supply-side of rule production, by examining the evolution of the two regimes from a public choice perspective. We suggest that the content of the rules has been crucially influenced by differences in the mode of regulation. In the UK, self-regulation of takeovers has led to a regime largely driven by the interests of institutional investors, whereas the dynamics of judicial law-making in the US have benefited managers by making it relatively difficult for shareholders to influence the rules. Moreover, it was never possible for Wall Street to privatize takeovers in the same way as the City of London, because US federal regulation in the 1930s both pre-empted self-regulation and restricted the ability of institutional investors to coordinate. Our account has implications for debates about takeover regulation in both the US and the EU.
Keywords: hostile takeovers, history of corporate law, comparative corporate law, self-regulation, institutional investors, evolution of law, Anglo-American corporate governance
JEL Classification: G23, G34, G38, K22, N20, N40
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