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Challenges of corporate governance discussed at 13th European Corporate Governance Conference

Date

2013 10 09

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More than 200 participants attended the 13th European Corporate Governance Conference, which was held in Vilnius on 8-9 October. The conference focused on active participation of shareholders in corporate governance.

‘Skilled shareholders know their rights and know how to use them - in particular for promoting good corporate governance in companies in which they invest. As the owners of the company the shareholders can best look after the company’s and their own interests if they properly use their rights’, - said Minister of Economy Evaldas Gustas during the opening session of the conference.

According to the Minister of Economy, policy makers and private businesses face new problems arising in the rapidly changing legal and economic environment. They also see possibilities for improvement of the corporate governance principles and the related regulation in both – soft law and hard law. We see that significant positive changes are coming from the European Union and the OECD. Events like this conference help initiate positive change at the EU level.

The topics of the conference were discussed in four panels. The first session focused on the realities of institutional shareholder behavior, relationship between beneficial owners and asset managers, the role of governance service firms and proxy advisers.

Institutional investors' behavior differs in nature from other shareholders. They accept the funds from the third parties and have specific objectives to achieve. Improvement of corporate governance with regard to the institutional investors should be aimed to encourage and facilitate long-term shareholder engagement behavior. Also, it should be related to disclosure of the voting policies, management of conflicts of interest and to co-operation between the investors.

The second panel focused on encouraging long-term shareholder engagement. Shareholders‘ oversight of the related party transactions, an opportunity to foster effective shareholder cooperation and the role of institutional investors were discussed.

The third session was dedicated to discuss the governance challenges for unlisted companies. During the session, advanced governance framework of the company, appointment of an effective board, dialogue between shareholders and the board, family governance mechanisms and succession planning was discussed.

The shareholder value creation in state-owned enterprises was also discussed at the conference. State-owned enterprises contribute to the economic growth and employment, support the national budget by taxes paid, and provide important services to the public and businesses. The discussion focused on the state acting as the owner, transparent nomination and empowering of the board and the management.

The presentations were made by the following experts in the field of corporate governance: Ugo Bassi  (Director for Capital and Companies, DG Internal Market and Services, European Commission), Marco Becht (Executive Director of the European Corporate Governance Institute), Paul Kruger Andersen (Chairman of the European Model Company Act group), Patrick Zurstrassen (Chairman of the European Confederation of Directors’ Association), Anders Berg (Chair of the Working Party on State Ownership and Privatisation Practice, OECD), Kristian Kaas Mortensen (President of Baltic Institute of Corporate Governance) and others.

European Corporate Governance Conference was held under the auspices of Lithuania’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union.