US corporate governance less than perfect

July 2, 2008

While Japan can do more to improve corporate governance, Tokyo Stock Exchange President Atsushi Saito said comparisons to the United States need a little context. Saito said the Federal Reserve’s decision to sell Bear Stearns off to JP Morgan Chase for a mere $2 a share in a weekend firesale was not exactly in the interest of Bear’s shareholders. “Is that respecting shareholders? You have to think about that,” Saito told the Reuters Japan Investment Summit in Tokyo. One persistent criticism of Japanese companies do not have enough outside directors on their boards. But Saito also noted that a majority of the board members at Enron – the poster-child of the U.S. corporate scandals in 2002-2003, along with WorldCom – were from outside the company. And Saito said it was a little worrying how the US Congress has been itching to take action against China with the variety of laws introduced that threaten sanctions and limits on investment. “Everything is not going according to logic.”

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