Working Paper Series: Finance & Accounting, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt a. M. 22
It is the objective of this paper to determine the voting premium for French shares by comparing the values of voting and non-voting shares, and to analyze the value of the voting rights. The study uses data for 25 French companies which had both types of shares outstanding and traded on the stock exchange during the entire period from 1986 to 1996, or for some time during this interval. The average value of the voting premium is 51,35%. The paper analyzes the reasons for this surprisingly high value by testing different hypotheses based on dividend differences, the revival) of the voting right, capitalization, shareholder structure, and the share of non-voting capital in total equity capital. The regressions show that the shareholder structure strongly influences the value of the voting premium. A case study of the attempted takeover of Casino by Promodes shows that investors attach a much higher value to the voting right during relevant situations than at other tomes. Both companies involved had, at the time, two types of shares outstanding and listed. Furthermore the paper shows that non-voting shares have never played an important role in equity finance in France since the companies have different alternatives. In an international cumparison, France is found to have the second highest voting premium, exceeded only by that of Italy. A probable reason is the low quality of the national accounting standards and the low level of minority shareholder protection.