August 4, 2022 | Editor: Henry Hofman
Alibaba plans primary listing in Hong Kong
Alibaba Group will apply for a primary listing in Hong Kong, with the process expected to be completed by the end of this year. Currently, the Chinese tech giant has a primary listing in the US and a secondary listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Alibaba’s announcement came just days before the US market regulator, SEC, put the company on its watchlist of foreign companies facing expulsion from the US market for not complying with audit legal requirements. The US and China have been at odds for years over China’s refusal to grant access to the audit files of Chinese US-listed companies due to security concerns. Alibaba said it would comply with the US regulators and strive to maintain its listings both in New York and Hong Kong. Separately, Alibaba has recently removed all executives of financial affiliate Ant Group from its partnership, in a bid to “enhance corporate governance.” The partnership, which was formed in 2010, can nominate a majority of the company’s directors.
Vivendi to divest unit to secure approval for Lagardère deal
Vivendi is considering spinning off its publishing unit Editis in order to avoid antitrust concerns as it is seeking to acquire Lagardère Group. Vivendi plans to divest its subsidiary, the second-largest publishing player on the French market, primarily by distributing Editis shares to Vivendi’s shareholders and having the shares admitted to trading on Euronext Paris. The Bolloré Group, Vivendi’s largest shareholder with 29% of the capital, is expected to sell all of the Editis shares it owns. Subject to the approval of competition authorities, Vivendi will own 57% of Lagardère’s capital and 47.3% of the voting rights.
Elliott builds USD 2 billion stake in PayPal
PayPal’s stock rose around 13% after the company announced activist investor Elliott Investment Management is now one of its largest shareholders with a USD 2 billion stake and that its Q2 financial results have beaten expectations. PayPal and Elliott have entered into an information-sharing agreement on value creation with the two parties having committed to work on a “comprehensive evaluation of capital return alternatives.” PayPal’s board also authorized a new USD 15 billion share buyback program. The fintech company, whose share price has plummeted more than 50% in the past year, plans to save up USD 900 million in cost-cutting measures in 2022.
Credit Suisse appoints Körner new CEO
Credit Suisse has appointed Ulrich Körner as its new CEO and announced a strategic review, as the bank posted a net loss of nearly CHF 1.6 billion in Q2. The financial result was impacted by the geopolitical situation following the Russia-Ukraine war and costs arising from the collapse of Archegos hedge fund. Körner has taken over from Thomas Gottstein, who had been at the helm of the Swiss bank since 2020. Credit Suisse has seen several leadership changes in the past years as the company has been involved in a string of governance scandals. Most recently, former Chairman Antonio Horta-Osorio resigned in January after breaking COVID-19 quarantine rules.
Governance in Brief – December 8, 2022
EU Parliament approves directive boosting female board representation The European Parliament has approved a directive requiring the “underrepresented sex” to make up 40% of non-executive director roles or 33% of all director roles of publicly listed EU companies, excluding small and medium enterprises, by June 2026. According to the “Women on Boards” Directive, which was passed 10 years after it was first proposed by the European Commission, companies will have to annually report on board gender representation to authorities and, in case targets are not met, explain how they plan to attain them. Additionally, Member States will have to set up a penalty system, including fines or annulment of director selection, for noncompliant companies.
Governance in Brief – December 1, 2022
Intel changes performance metrics for CEO’s new-hire award Intel has amended the new hire agreement for CEO Pat Gelsinger by increasing the share price growth target from 30% to 50%, extending the post-grant vesting period from three to five years, and increasing the number of trading days during which target prices need to be maintained from 30 to 90 days. The decision comes after more than half of votes cast by shareholders at the 2022 AGM opposed the company’s remuneration report.
Governance in Brief – November 24, 2022
Costco to set new emissions targets following activist demands Activist investment firm Green Century Capital Management claims that Costco Wholesale Corp has pledged to set new Scope 3 climate reduction targets in 2023. At Costco’s January 2022 AGM, 70% of votes supported a proposal from Green Century for the company to include emissions from producers and distributors in its net-zero greenhouse gas emissions targets.
Governance in Brief – November 17, 2022
Renault to potentially spin off EV line and partner with Geely French carmaker Renault Group has announced plans to split its activities into five separate businesses: “Ampere” (electrical vehicles), “Power” (combustion- and hybrid-engine assets), “Alpine” (sports cars), “Mobilize” (financial services), and “The Future is Neutral” (recycling activities). The company is considering listing Ampere on Euronext Paris in 2023 and has said that it will welcome external investors while maintaining a “strong majority.”