Time-tested ways of holding business to account are crumbling

THE TERM “public company” to denote a group with shares listed on a stockmarket suggests that society at large has an interest in how they are run. Fair enough: one does not need to own shares in Royal Dutch Shell or Facebook to care what their bosses are up to. Comparisons between the market value of multinationals and countries’ GDP are wide of the mark, but their recurrence reflects a legitimate anxiety about the clout of business. Whether as employers, investments, polluters or purveyors of bestselling products, firms need monitoring just as governments do.

But how are firms scrutinised, exactly? In the old days a company would issue quarterly results, publish an annual report, and engage in continual, close discussions with a select group of shareholders, financial analysts and bankers. Once a year a domineering chairman might face the public at the annual general meeting. Today the relationship has flipped: companies and...



via Business Feeds

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