VEA Vice Chair Nell Minow is quoted about the corporate governance concerns relating to family control of Ford Mother Company.
The arrangement once again came under scrutiny at the annual meeting. A shareholder proposal to strip the family of its special class of stock and go to a one-share, one-vote arrangement garnered 35% support, up from 34% last year. Some investors have long complained that super-power voting weighs down the value of publicly traded companies, while giving founding families sometimes unwarranted control.
“That’s why we don’t have Kings and Queens anymore — it’s a roll of the genetic dice,” said Nell Minow, vice chair with ValueEdge Advisors, a shareholder advocacy firm. “We’ve seen in companies like Motorola and Anheuser Busch that it hasn’t worked out to continue to pass the baton from generation to generation.”
Since Bill Ford became chairman in 1999, the automaker’s shares are down 91%, while the S&P 500 index is up 129%. Unlike General Motors Co. and Chrysler, however, Ford avoided bankruptcy in 2009.