Business Dual-class share structures The cost of control
商业 双重股份制结构 控制的代价
The trouble with non-voting shares
SHAREHOLDERS in News Corporation have only themselves to blame. When they entrusted Rupert Murdoch with their money, they knew he would not let them tell him what to do with it. The Murdoch family owns about 12% of the company but controls almost 40% of the votes, through a special class of shares which have superior voting rights. Such "dual-class" share structures are quite common, especially at media firms. (The Economist Group has a version.) They can shield managers from stockmarket short-termism and hostile takeovers. But they cause problems, too.
Two studies of American firms by Paul Gompers, Joy Ishii and Andrew Metrick, covering the years from 1994 to 2002, found that dual-class firms perform worse than comparable firms where all shares confer equal voting rights.
两项由Paul Gompers,Joy Ishii 和Andrew Metrick三人进行的对美国公司的研究包括了1994年到2002年的内容，发现当所有股东商谈平等投票表决权时，实行双重标准的公司表现的比同类公司差劲。
Dual-class firms are fonder of debt than equity, to prevent the dilution of controlling stakes. Yet surprisingly, their shares do not trade at a big discount on stockmarkets. A study by Chad Zutter and Scott Smart found that dual-class initial public offerings (IPOs) achieved only slightly lower price-earnings and price-sales ratios than comparable single-class IPOs。
实行双重标准的公司更倾向于运用债务而不是资本金来降低控制风险。然而令人吃惊的是，他们的股份不会在股票市场上以很大的折扣进行交易。一项由Chad Zutter和Scott Smart主持的研究发现，双重标准IPO达到的跟同类单标准IPO公司相比只是轻微地降低了市盈率。
Nor does this strange ownership model show any sign of going out of fashion. There were 12 dual-class IPOs in America last year, not far from the norm for the nine-year period in the 1990s studied by Mr Zutter and Mr Smart.
Dual-class structures are not just a way for press barons to keep their hands on the hatchet with which they threaten governments. Internet firms love them, too, since they allow founders brimming with self-belief to raise cash without surrendering control. Google's IPO in 2004 involved two classes of share. LinkedIn followed suit this year. The IPO filings of Zynga and Groupon would also grant managers control over voting rights.
Investors who seek long-term gains may be happy to cede control if they think the boss is a genius. It worked for the holders of B shares in Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. It once worked for investors in Mr Murdoch, too. But tech punters have not been so lucky. The number of dual-class firms listed in America fell from 482 in 2000 to 362 in 2002 as the dotcom bubble burst. If the current internet boom follows a similar path, News Corporation shareholders will not be the only ones feeling second-class.