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Monday, February 24, 2014

The Shareholder Value Myth

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How Putting Shareholders First Harms Investors, Corporations and the Public

Is maximizing shareholder wealth the primary purpose of a public corporation? Not according to Cornell University law professor Lynn Stout. Stout asserts there is no legal mandate for corporations or boards of directors to maximize shareholder value. Stout argues the prevailing norm – the “myth” – undermines the economy and public well-being. 

Is Stout correct? Why does shareholder primacy seem to prevail among directors and executives, and what are the implications for a corporation’s commitment to serving multiple stakeholders and society?

Join CEBC members and guests to hear Lynn Stout’s argument and to ask her a number of critical questions. Hasn’t “shareholder primacy” worked well for the past hundred years? What alternative makes more sense? How do you change the prevailing norm in business? Have legal and regulatory reforms in the wake of Enron and the financial crisis moved in the right direction, or have they increased shareholder power and primacy?

Stout’s address will be followed by reflections from a panel including John Sullivan, J.D., retired senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary at Imation Corp.; and David Vang, Ph.D., professor in the Finance Department at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business. The dialogue will be moderated by Ron James, CEBC president and CEO.

The program is free and open to the public. 1.25 hours of standard MN C.L.E. have been approved (event code 187471). Advance registration is required.

Co-sponsors for the event are the:

  • Katherine B. Andersen Fund at The Saint Paul Foundation
  • Bremer Bank
  • Corporate Institute at the University of Minnesota Law School
  • Financial Executives International – Twin Cities Chapter
  • Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions at the University of St. Thomas School of Law
  • Hubbard Broadcasting
  • National Association of Corporate Directors – Minnesota Chapter

About the Speaker and Panelists

Lynn Stout, J.D. is distinguished professor of corporate and business law at Cornell University and an internationally recognized expert in the fields of corporate governance, securities regulation, financial derivatives, law and economics, and moral behavior. Her most recent book is The Shareholder Value Myth: How Putting Shareholders First Harms Investors, Corporations and the Public (2012). Stout is a frequent commentator and speaker on corporate governance and the purpose of the corporation. She is a member of the board of advisors for the Aspen Institute’s Business & Society Program and executive advisor to the Brookings Institution Project on Corporate Purpose, among other affiliations. She holds a B.A. summa cum laude, a masters in Public Affairs from Princeton University and a J.D. from the Yale Law School.

John Sullivan, J.D., was a member of Imation’s executive operations team, directed its worldwide legal staff and supported the Imation board of directors. He previously served as vice president and general counsel at Silicon Graphics Inc. and as general counsel at Cray Research, Inc. Sullivan currently serves on the board of directors for the Regions Hospital Foundation and the Matthew Shepard Foundation, and on the board of trustees for the Minneapolis Foundation. He is also a member of the Community Advisory Boards for both Theatre Latte Da and Frank Theater, and is an adjunct faculty member of the University of Minnesota Law School. He holds a B.A. from the University of St. Thomas and a J.D. from the University of Notre Dame Law School. 

David Vang, Ph.D., is a professor in the Finance Department at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business. Besides being an award-winning teacher, he has performed more than 70 consulting assignments for firms ranging from small businesses to Fortune 100 corporations. He has been a CFO for a technology firm through the process of start up to going public, and this experience led him to co-author the textbook Entrepreneurial Finance: An Applied Approach, 3rd edition, published by M.E. Sharpe. Vang graduated summa cum laude from St. Cloud State University and received a Ph.D. in economics from Iowa State University.

Date, Time, and Location

Monday, February 24, 2014, 4:30 pm

University of St. Thomas – Minneapolis Campus
Schulze Hall
46 11th Street South
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Program: 4:30 – 6 p.m. in Schulze Hall Auditorium
Networking Reception: 6 – 6:45 p.m. in the Schulze Hall Atrium

Map: http://www.stthomas.edu/campusmaps/minneapoliscampus/