October 18, 2019 – At AXA – 25 Avenue Matignon – Paris
9:15 Opening of the conference :
François Vannesson, General Secretary of Axa Climate, General Secretary of D&C
9:20 Kick off:
George Stansfield, General Secretary of the AXA Group
Robert Ophèle, President of AMF
Clément Royo, Advisor to the President of the National Assembly’s Finance Committee
10:00 Round table 1: Forms of corporate control and wider corporate purposes.
Is it possible to talk about strong majority shareholders and weak minority shareholders in France and in continental Europe more globally? To what extent has the Florange law been able to increase this phenomenon? What are the positive and negative effects of these types of capital structures? To what extent does this configuration change the shareholder activism of investment funds and pension funds? To what extent does the introduction of the broader social purpose change the situation in terms of shareholder engagement? What about the latest statements made in the United States on the obsolescence of the pro shareholder model?
In introduction of the round table, Thomas Bourveau will present his paper about the Florange Act: The Effect of Tenure-Based Voting Rights on Stock Market Attrativeness: Evidence from the Florange Act
Laurence Parisot, President of CitiGroup
Olivier Fortesa, Managing Partner at Amber Capital
Matthew B. Goodman, Associate at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
Thomas Bourveau, Assistant Professor at Columbia University, Vice President of D&C
11h45 Round table 2: Shareholder collaboration.
The manager-shareholder dynamics draw much more benefits from cooperation that confrontation. Several studies (Fisch, Sepe) demonstrated that the cooperation model brings an added value that unilateral decision models do not offer, wether that decision belongs to the company’s organs or its shareholders. That being said, do French managers agree with theses remarks? Shareholder cooperation is indeed, originally, a strategy implemented by foreign hedge funds, whose influence the French – and, to a certain extent, Europeans – tradition is far from being fond of.
In that context, one needs to wonder to what extent the SRD 2 directive allows the development of a logic of cooperation. Although the directive seeks to promote “long-term” investment, its concrete provisions seem to defeat the objectives it was aimed to reach. Beyond the directive, how should regulations relating to market abuses and concerted actions be interpreted in the context of activism, and especially when activist practices are abusive?
Alessio Pacces, Professor at the University of Amsterdam
Angus Milne, Director Risk & Compliance at TCI
Paola Perotti, CEO at GO Investment Partners
Alain Pietrancosta, Professor at the University Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne
13:00 Lunch break
13:45 Round table 3: The rise of green activism.
Environmental activism is on the rise: with pension funds getting more active and some activist funds incorporating a sustainability agenda, the potential impact of shareholders over non-financial concerns is a rather newly acknowledged phenomenon. Yet, this illustrates how shareholder activism may contribute to the defining of a long-term value-creating strategy for companies and suggests that their influence on governance issues is far from being limited to short-term financial performance. The fact that hedge funds (such as ValueAct Capital, with the recent creation of ValueAct Spring fund, or other funds such as BlackRock, who has a special offer for clients willing to invest in socially and environmentally responsible companies), environmental activism is no longer a marginal aspect of shareholder activism. How can we explain such a growing importance of environmental shareholder activism? How will ESG risks and sustainability concerns predictably impact the governance of French and European companies in the near future?
Alexis Masse, Strategic advisor at GRDF and President of the responsible investment forum
Loïc Dessaint, Director of Proxinvest
Pierre-Yves Gauthier, Founder of AlphaValue
Cédric Laverie, Head of France Governance Research at ISS (Institutional Shareholder Services)
Ahmed Guenaoui, Treasurer of D&C
15:15 End of the conference