Corporate governance groups might want to raise a toast this New Year’s: It seems they are making headway in pushing public companies toward shareholder-friendly reforms. At least, that’s what a recent study from law firm Shearman & Sterling suggests.
The firm’s fifth annual “Corporate Governance Survey” of the 100 biggest U.S. public companies found big declines in recent years in the number that have “poison pills,” which make hostile takeovers prohibitively expensive for acquirers, and classified boards, which make it difficult for an acquirer to shake up a company’s board of directors.
Just 17 of the 100 companies had poison pills in place in 2007, almost half the number in 2004, and only 33 of the companies in this year’s survey had classified boards, a nearly 40 percent decrease from 2004.
But the news from the corporate governance front was not all positive, as Jeff Nash of Financial Week reports. A study released earlier this week by Corporate Library’s researchers found that executive pay continued its steady climb in 2007. Mr. Nash noted that compensation for chief executives at S&P 500 companies increased by 23 percent in 2007, bringing the new median pay up to more than $8.8 million.
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