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from Breakingviews:

Man U investors can always vote with their feet

By John Foley
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Shares without votes raise hackles. Consider the disquiet around Manchester United’s upcoming listing in Singapore, where new shareholders may be offered a package of vote-lite instruments that will entrench the Glazer family’s control. But while unorthodox, that’s not necessarily bad. Besides, investors are free to demand a discount, or boycott the IPO altogether.

Many companies break the one-share-one-vote principle. Carmaker Ford and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway both have vote-lite and vote-heavy shares. Ditto internet companies Google and LinkedIn. Manchester United may have dreamt up an alternative by “stapling” non-voting preference shares to regular voting ones.

Reduced voting power can be problematic if managers misbehave or if takeovers arise. Take media empire News Corp, where shareholders have struggled to exert pressure on the founding Murdoch family despite their poor governance. Or Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, who used his control of voting shares to take the adult entertainment group private in 2010 for less than the owner of rival Penthouse said it would offer.

from Global Investing:

Careful what you say

Bank executives beware. Turn your microphones off during what are likely to be stormy shareholder meetings this year.

Insults are likely to fly at many bank AGMs this year from shareholders angry at their board for losing billions, sending shares crashing, making ill-advised purchases or for their role in the global economic crisis. Bankers are unpopular after more than a year of grim news.

Did Stuart Rose get it wrong at M&S?


ms.jpgJust a year ago, Stuart Rose’s stock was riding high as the man who turned round Marks and Spencer but now he faces shareholder anger over controversial management changes, a big profit warning and a proposal to make him executive chairman as well as chief executive.

M&S shares lost 33 percent of their value last week after the warning.

Rose upset some analysts last week by announcing that head of food Steven Esom, who had been tipped as a potential successor, was leaving after only about a year in the job, following a sharply weaker performance at the food business.