“There is today in France a formidable compendium of knowledge and skills insufficiently exploited in the field of financial law” – Fabrice Seiman, President of the OEDF

The European Centre for Financial Law had the pleasure to receive on 18 December 2019 Mr Eric Woerth, Co-rapporteur of the parliamentary mission on shareholder activism, and Mr Michel Prada, Chairman of the working group on shareholder activism of the Club des Juristes.

Their intervention was introduced by Mr Seiman, President of the European Centre for Financial Law.

Centre Breakfast on shareholder activism
Speech by Mr Fabrice Seiman, President of the European Centre for Financial Law

Minister, ladies and gentlemen,

It’s a pleasure to welcome you this morning, on the occasion of the first event we are organizing.

As many of you know, the European Centre for Financial Law is a non-profit endowment fund created in 2019, following a series of observations that we have made as researchers, academics and practitioners in the fields of law and finance.

These observations are very simple.

The first of them is that there is today in France a formidable compendium of knowledge and skills that is insufficiently exploited in the field of financial law. A compendium of diverse knowledge, at the cutting edge of the latest advances, which could become a very powerful economic lever if it were better organised.

The second of these observations is that the world of finance and research do not speak to each other, or speak very little. Due to a lack of means of communication commensurate with their ambitions, French researchers – unlike their American counterparts, for example – are not heard sufficiently. Disseminating knowledge has a cost, which our researchers are not in a position to bear – and indeed they do not have to do so. Their role must remain that of innovating, of going ever further in knowledge.

This situation I have just described has direct consequences:

– on the one hand, in the absence of mediation structures, the level of expertise of our elites in law and financial markets remains low,

– on the other hand, the work of researchers and, sometimes, the proposals of public decision-makers, do not benefit as much as they should from the insight of professionals

We have therefore decided to become one of these transmission belts, by federating the very many initiatives carried out by our partner research laboratories and by associating our efforts with those who are already working to make their voices heard on these issues.

As you have understood, our mission is both simple and ambitious: to promote research in law and finance, with emphasis on the dissemination of knowledge to the general public and support for high-level research. In very concrete terms, our team works daily on financing scholarships for deserving young students, on awarding the European thesis prize for the best endowed thesis in financial law, and on organising first-rate scientific events, the next of which will take place at the end of January at the Ecole Normale Supérieure. With a single objective: to support today’s research and promote tomorrow’s talent.

So among these projects, one of them is particularly close to our hearts, and you are inaugurating it with us this morning. It is the creation of centres of expertise aimed at encouraging the synergies we were talking about a moment ago between the academic and professional world and public decision-makers. Starting today, the Observatory’s Luncheons will indeed bring together every quarter recognised speakers from the fields of finance and law, around a topical theme.

On behalf of all of you, I would therefore like to thank our two guests this morning, Mr Eric Woerth and Mr Michel Prada, respectively “Co-rapporteur of the parliamentary mission on shareholder activism” and “Chairman of the working group on shareholder activism of the Club des Juristes”, who do us the honour of bringing us their expertise on this important subject.

As we will see, the subject of shareholder activism is at the confluence of several issues: those of governance of targeted companies, those of investor protection and those of the proper functioning and competitiveness of markets. We could not begin our series of conferences with a more useful or current topic.

Before opening our discussions, I would like to thank the members of the AMF, the MEDEF and the AFG for their presence here today, as well as the entire team at the Observatory and especially our Secretary General Anne-Priscille Desbarres for the quality of this organisation.

I now give the floor to Professor Pietrancosta, our Scientific Director, to shed more light on the issues at stake in today’s discussion topic.

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L’OEDF a pour objet de financer et de diffuser la recherche en droit financier et en finance, en encourageant tout projet d’intérêt général contribuant au débat public ou à la promotion de l’égalité des chances.

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The objectives of the Centre are based around three key areas

Observing and analysing trends in the field of financial law
Forging connections between academic research and the business in an international context
Encouraging any projects of general interest contributing to the public debate

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