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Corporate Governance – portrayed in the individual cultural and legal framework, from the standpoint of equity capital.

VIPsight is a dynamic photo archive, sorted by nations and dates, by and for those interested in CG from all over the world.

VIPsight offers, every month:
transparent and independent current information / comments / facts and figures on corporate governance locally and internationally,

  • written by local CG experts,
  • selected and structured by the Club of Florence,
  • financed by its initiator VIP and other sponsors with a background of “Equity and Advisory” interests.

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Buhlmann's Corner



Them up there and us down here

I do believe you know what I’m talking about.

You’re at one of the countless national or even more likely international conferences where they sing the praises of corporate governance, and responsibility in general and sustainability in particular are also lauded with a pinch of les carbon and the occasional reference to ethics.

The panel has the obligatory prominent, familiar names, personalities waiting for the questions that will be answered with prepared phrases, read from the lectern or projected in glorious large-scale Powerpoint. We few, we humble few, are sitting all in a row below them, listening and making notes. Later, in the less constrained ambience of the coffee break we get into small intimate groups to chat.. I send off an sms: “Can you believe what they’re trying to sell us? What happened to the truth? One’s spinning fannies and the other one’s telling us his wildest dreams” The answer is swift and to the point. “You’re quite right. The powers that be here are serving up a load of bull”.

If we add up the assets there under management, even allowing for a few duplicates the total can’t be far short of a million million (22 figures). Every year astronomical quantities of worth meet together but there’s surely something not quite right if while all these people administer such a vast quantity of asset worth so ethically and perfectly responsibly without the shadow of a conflict of interests, the world just keeps turning round the same way with nary an ideal nor a step forward?

Seemingly, everyone( or at least so they say) cast their votes at shareholders’ meetings; they get advice from people who know more than they do and open up thousands and thousands of jobs and then highly respectable policies. It therefore comes a a bit of surprise to learn that certain situations still brood on the horizon. I’m thinking of the 19% that turned out during the MTU meeting (listed in the Mid-Cap-Dax) or the 29% in Bank,, not to mention the 32% in e.on.

There aren’t many shareholders who are absolutely certain that their votes are definitely present let alone how ethically that presentation might be cast . And yet here we are almost in 2015.

We can all remember events that were (sadly) turning points. The over 100% in Endesa (2007), the abstention rate of 51% when the board of MAN was to be elected (2011) or the resignation of a Chairman the day before the shareholders’ meeting. A mistaken cross-border instruction forecast him to lose the election in which, however, he proceeded to poll 63%. Someone had realised that the votes would reach the bottom of the custody chain in a different condition than when they started out. Knowing this information has already found democratic justification. It ought to be done likewise for politics and political office, n’est-ce pas?

A good yardstick for measuring what happens in the world of economics is by what is done in politics. Do I care what I said in the run up to the elections? Not me – not a bit!

The latest grand example is the Chair at Siemens who promised the shareholders in 2012-3 that as soon as he was elected he would devise a plan of succession for himself and the other members of the Supervisory Board. Time has passed and he’s still sitting in his boardroom chair. We, on the other hand are sitting down here in the conference hall doing our damnedest to keep the world as it always has been. Them up there and us down here.