Table of Contents

Research Handbook on Shareholder Power

Research Handbook on Shareholder Power

Research Handbooks in Corporate Law and Governance series

Edited by Jennifer G. Hill and Randall S. Thomas

Much of the history of corporate law has concerned itself not with shareholder power, but rather with its absence. Yet, as this Handbook shows, there have been major shifts in capital market structure that require a reassessment of the role and power of shareholders. This book provides a contemporary analysis of shareholder power and considers the regulatory consequences of changing ownership patterns around the world. Leading international scholars in corporate law, governance and financial economics address these central issues from a range of different perspectives including historical, contemporary, legal, economic, political and comparative.

Chapter 19: Changing law and ownership patterns in Germany: corporate governance and the erosion of Deutschland AG

Wolf-Georg Ringe

Subjects: law - academic, corporate law and governance


German corporate governance and corporate law are currently undergoing a major change. The old “Deutschland AG”, a nationwide network of firms, banks, and directors, is eroding, ownership is diffusing and the shareholder body is becoming more international than ever. This chapter presents new data to support this development and explores the consequences in governance and in law that have been taken or that need to be drawn from this finding. Consistent with market-based theoretical accounts on corporate law, it finds that the changes currently underway are mainly a response to global market pressure: German banks divested their equity stakes mainly as a consequence of increased international competition. The chapter extends the model of market-led change by two important observations: first, market pressure is not the only driver of legal change, but the law itself in this case contributed to facilitating competition. Notably, a taxation law reform enabled and accelerated the competition process already underway. Legal rules and market competition may thus be understood as not operating in isolation, but as forces that can be working in dialog. Secondly, the chapter highlights the importance of ownership structure as an important intermediate condition in the logical order between market competition and legal change.

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