Shareholder rebellion

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Shareholder rebellion occurs when the owners of a corporation work to throw out management or oppose their decisions. Shareholder rebellion may occur at an annual general meeting or through a proxy battle. Shareholders may also threaten to collapse a firm's stock price through concentrated selling.[1] In 1998, the Rockefeller family led a shareholder revolt against Exxon over its climate change policy.[2] In 2005, Michael Eisner retired after Walt Disney's nephew, Roy Disney, led a shareholder revolt, claiming Eisner was a micromanager who had caused a creative brain drain.[3] In 2010, British Petroleum[4] and Shell faced a shareholder revolt over their Canadian tar sands policy.[5]

Recently, shareholder rebellions have occurred over the issue of executive compensation at Cable and Wireless[6] and Shell;[7] Shell in response unveiled a plan to curb executive compensation and bonuses.[8] According to some analysts, institutional shareholders have been lax about holding management accountable because they were concentrating on picking correct stocks rather than protecting their interests in the stocks they owned.[9]

Shareholder revolts are becoming more common, with a record number of advisory “Say on Pay” votes in the US failing to win majority support in 2018.[10]


On 24 January 1609, Amsterdam-based businessman Isaac Le Maire filed a petition against the Dutch East India Company (VOC), marking the first recorded expression of shareholder activism or shareholder rebellion.[11][12][13][14][15][16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ John C. Coffee, Jr. (October 1991), "Liquidity versus Control: The Institutional Investor as Corporate Monitor", Columbia Law Review, 91 (6): 1277–1368, doi:10.2307/1123064, JSTOR 1123064
  2. ^ Clark, Andrew (19 May 2008). "Exxon facing shareholder revolt over approach to climate change". The Guardian. London.
  3. ^ Lubove, Seth; Fixmer, Andy (13 March 2010). "Brain-eating zombies invade Disney in Iger plan to win boy fans". The Seattle Times.
  4. ^ "Now BP Faces Shareholder Revolt over Tar Sands". 8 February 2010.
  5. ^ MacAlister, Terry (18 January 2010). "Shell faces shareholder revolt over Canadian tar sands project". The Guardian. London.
  6. ^ Wachman, Richard (11 March 2010). "Cable & Wireless facing shareholder revolt over executive pay". The Guardian. London.
  7. ^ "Shell Shareholder 'Rebellion' Leads To New Limits on Executive Pay, Bonuses". HuffPost. 16 February 2010.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Time for a shareholder revolt". Reuters. 27 October 2009. Archived from the original on 29 October 2009.
  10. ^ "Season's Meetings: Record Failed Say-on-Pay votes this proxy season" (PDF). Proxy Monthly. July 2018. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  11. ^ Frentrop, Paul (2009). The First Known Shareholder Activist: The Colorful Life and Times of Isaac le Maire (1559–1624), in Frentrop/Jonker/Davis 2009, 11–26
  12. ^ Frentrop, Paul; Jonker, Joost; Davis, S. (ed.), (2009). Shareholder Rights at 400: Commemorating Isaac Le Maire and the First Recorded Expression of Investor Advocacy (The Hague: Remix Business Communications, 2009)
  13. ^ Gelderblom, Oscar; De Jong, Abe; Jonker, Joost (2010). Putting Le Maire into Perspective: Business Organization and the Evolution of Corporate Governance in the Dutch Republic, 1590–1610, in J. Koppell, ed., Origins of Shareholder Advocacy. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan)
  14. ^ McRitchie, James (6 October 2011). "Will UNFI Go Virtual-Only Again? Not if Shareowners Just Say No". Retrieved 28 December 2016.
  15. ^ Mueller, Dennis C. (ed.), (2012). The Oxford Handbook of Capitalism, p. 333. (New York: Oxford University Press)
  16. ^ Hansmann, Henry; Pargendler, Mariana (2013). The Evolution of Shareholder Voting Rights: Separation of Ownership and Consumption. (Yale Law Journal, Vol. 123, pp. 100–165, 2014)