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September 13, 2006

Press Contact: Kirston Fortune, Assistant Dean for Communications, (512) 471.7330 or kfortune@law.utexas.edu.

Professor Henry Hu Addresses the Council of Institutional Investors on Hedge Funds and Corporate Governance

Photo of Professor Henry T. C. Hu
Professor Henry T. C. Hu
Photo Credit: Rick Patrick

AUSTIN, Texas—Professor Henry T. C. Hu of The University of Texas School of Law will address the Council of Institutional Investors at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., with a speech entitled “Hedge Fund Activism and the New Vote Buying” on Tuesday, Sept. 19.

The audience is expected to include about 500 attendees, including executive directors and other senior investment professionals at most of the major U.S. institutional investors, including corporate pension funds such as those of Coca-Cola and Pfizer, public funds like CalPERS (the California Public Employees’ Retirement System), labor funds like the AFL-CIO, and mega funds like the World Bank and TIAA-CREF. The Council is a not-for-profit association of public, labor, and corporate pension funds with assets exceeding $3 trillion.

This speech will be based in part on articles co-authored by Professors Hu and Bernard S. Black, also of The University of Texas Law School, on what they call the “new vote buying.” Most publicly held corporations have long had a governance structure based on a proportional relationship between shareholder voting rights and the number of shares held. This concept of one share-one vote is familiar to everyone.

Hu and Black suggest, however, that the derivatives revolution and other recent capital market developments now allow hedge funds and other investors to readily “decouple” economic ownership of shares from voting rights. For instance, through financial engineering, a hedge fund with absolutely no economic interest in a company can nevertheless hold the most number of votes. They offer the first systematic attempt to analyzing this decoupling—the “new vote buying”—and its corporate governance implications.

The two UT Law professors believe that existing legal and economic theories of the public corporation presume a link between voting rights and economic ownership that can no longer be relied on. They have found that, since 2001, decoupling appears to have occurred in battles for the corporate control of public companies in (at least) Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Hu and Black develop a taxonomy of decoupling strategies, propose a near-term disclosure-based response and outline a menu of longer-term regulatory choices. One article by Hu and Black was published this summer in the Southern California Law Review and another will be published this month in Business Lawyer.

The articles are as follows:

Henry T. C. Hu and Bernard Black, The New Vote Buying: Empty Voting and Hidden (Morphable) Ownership, 79 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA LAW REVIEW 811-908 (2006), also available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=904004

Henry T. C. Hu and Bernard Black, Empty Voting and Hidden (Morphable) Ownership: Taxonomy, Implications, and Reforms, 61 BUSINESS LAWYER 1011-1070 (2006), to be available at http://www.abanet.org/buslaw/tbl/home.shtml

Henry T. C. Hu holds the Allan Shivers Chair in the Law of Banking and Finance at The University of Texas School of Law and is interested in, among other things, the law and economics of corporate governance and corporate and international finance. Hu was chair of the Association of American Law Schools’ Business Associations section in 1996. During 1997-98, he taught at Harvard Law School as the Bruce W. Nichols Visiting Professor. In 2000, he was appointed to the National Association of Securities Dealers’ Legal Advisory Board, in 2001, to NASD Regulation’s e-Brokerage Committee, and in 2006, to NASD’s Market Regulation Committee. He is a member of the American Law Institute.

Bernard S. Black holds the Hayden W. Head Regents Chair for Faculty Excellence at The University of Texas School of Law, is professor of finance at UT’s McCombs School of Business, and managing director of the Legal Scholarship Network. Before coming to Texas, he was professor at Stanford Law School (1998-2004) and Columbia Law School (1988-1998). He has been an advisor on company law, securities law, and corporate governance in Armenia, Brazil, Indonesia, Korea, Mongolia, Russia, Ukraine, and Vietnam.

Related Links:
About Professor Hu: http://www.utexas.edu/law/faculty/huht/
About Professor Black: http://www.utexas.edu/law/faculty/bsb345/
About the Council of Institutional Investors: http://www.cii.org/about
Research by Henry Hu and Bernard Black Featured in Investment News and The Daily Telegraph (London): http://www.utexas.edu/law/news/2006/062706_hu.html http://www.utexas.edu/law/news/2006/062706_hu.html
Hedge Fund Voting Paper by Professors Henry Hu and Bernard Black Discussed in Corporate Control Alert: http://www.utexas.edu/law/news/2006/031706_governance.html