Listing Act - Multiple-vote Shares (cepPolicyBrief COM(2022)761)
Google, Apple, Meta: The US, Asia and the EU are seeing an increase in so-called multiple-vote shares. These are supposed to make it more appealing for small family businesses, start-ups and founders to go public, and to protect them from the dangers of hostile takeovers. The EU wants to permit multiple-vote shares on a uniform basis, subject to certain conditions. The Centrum für Europäische Politik (cep) sees more advantages than disadvantages in this plan.
"From a regulatory point of view, Brussels' proposal is largely unproblematic and provides an important lever to prevent the EU from falling further behind in the competition for fast-growing, innovative companies," says cep financial expert Philipp Eckhardt, who has analysed the Commission's draft directive. Protective measures, providing for the expiry of multiple-vote shares in case of death, incapacity or retirement of the holder, are logical; the transparency requirements are appropriate and essential for success, as they help to maintain investor confidence.
However, Eckhardt criticises safeguards intended to limit voting weight as being generally superfluous. The cep expert points out that: "The market can act independently. Legislators should not set fixed time periods for the expiry of multiple-vote share structures as it is unlikely that they will be able to set 'correct' and 'appropriate' time periods for all companies." Furthermore, multiple-vote share structures should be possible not only on growth markets for small and medium-sized companies, but also on regulated markets and exchange-like multilateral trading venues.
In Germany, multiple-vote shares have been prohibited for almost 20 years. Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner is aiming to initiate their reintroduction via the Future Financing Act.