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Beslut om ersättning till ledande befattningshavare i svenska och amerikanska aktiemarknadsbolag

Franzkeit, Kristoffer LU (2012) JURM02 20122
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Ersättningen till ledande befattningshavare identifierades i slutet av förra millenniet som en bidragande faktor till det låga förtroendet för näringslivet i USA och i Sverige. Lagstiftarna har sedan dess försökt komma till rätta med problemen både genom lagreglering samt via bolagskoder och listningsregler på börser. Det jag fokuserat på är vem som har makten i beslutsfattandet och hur intressen inom de olika bolagsorganen påverkar beslutsfattandet i ersättningsfrågor.

Styrelsen har exklusiv kompetens i amerikanska aktiemarknadsbolag att bereda och besluta om ersättningen till ledande befattningshavare. Detta gäller bolagsledningens samt styrelsens egen ersättning. Beslutet bereds av ett ersättningsutskott. Aktieägarna har ingen... (More)
Ersättningen till ledande befattningshavare identifierades i slutet av förra millenniet som en bidragande faktor till det låga förtroendet för näringslivet i USA och i Sverige. Lagstiftarna har sedan dess försökt komma till rätta med problemen både genom lagreglering samt via bolagskoder och listningsregler på börser. Det jag fokuserat på är vem som har makten i beslutsfattandet och hur intressen inom de olika bolagsorganen påverkar beslutsfattandet i ersättningsfrågor.

Styrelsen har exklusiv kompetens i amerikanska aktiemarknadsbolag att bereda och besluta om ersättningen till ledande befattningshavare. Detta gäller bolagsledningens samt styrelsens egen ersättning. Beslutet bereds av ett ersättningsutskott. Aktieägarna har ingen möjlighet att direkt påverka varken styrelse eller bolagslednings ersättning. De kan dock ex post ge styrelsen ett omdöme på hur de tycker att styrelsen sköter arvoderingen genom rådgivande omröstningar, så kallade say on pay-omröstningar.

I svenska aktiemarknadsbolag förbereder ett speciellt utskott inom styrelsen, ersättningsutskottet, årligen ett förslag om riktlinjer för ersättningen till ledande befattningshavare. Årsstämman tar sedan ställning till om detta förslag, eller eventuellt ett aktieägarinitierat förslag, ska gälla för bolaget kommande år. Styrelsen i det svenska aktiemarknadsbolaget fastställer sedan den individuella ersättningen till bolagsledningen inom ramen som riktlinjerna utgör. Styrelseledamöternas ersättning bereds i ersättningsutskottet, men ersättningen för de olika styrelseposterna fastställs av bolagsstämman.

I beredandet och fastställandet av individuell ersättning till ledande befattningshavare har styrelsen ett ansvar att tillgodose bolagets syfte. I både amerikanska och svenska aktiemarknadsbolag presumeras syftet vara ett vinstsyfte. Uppfyllandet av detta syfte regleras rättsligt genom plikter som kan härledas från sysslomannarätten i Sverige och det likande fiduciary-institutet inom common law som den amerikanska rätten tillhör. Dessa plikter är mer utvecklade inom amerikansk rätt, vilket jag förklarar med utgångspunkt i agentteorier.

Ägarkoncentrationen på amerikanska aktiemarknader är mycket lägre än på svenska aktiemarknader. I och med detta har styrelsen fått en större roll i bolagsstyrningen i amerikanska aktiemarknadsbolag. Maktfördelningen kan liknas vid den som råder vid ett republikanskt statsskick. När ägande och makt separeras i större grad, krävs en större kontroll. I min uppsats kommer jag fram till att desto större separationen är desto fördelaktigare att reglera komplexa bolagsstyrningsfrågor med standarder istället för förbud. Att värdera riktigheten ett affärsbeslut, så som ersättning till VD, är en komplex fråga där den amerikanska styrelsen utövar stort inflytande, dvs. har stor makt. Därför har ex post-standarder för lojalitet och omsorg i utövandet av denna makt utvecklats mer inom amerikansk än inom svensk aktiemarknadsrätt.

Eftersom det råder ett mer koncentrerat ägande i Sverige så har aktieägarna lättare att koordinera sig, och därför kan mer makt förskjutas till principalen, dvs. aktieägarna. Det svenska aktiebolagets organisation karakteriseras av en hierarkisk struktur där aktieägarna är omnipotenta. Styrelse och bolagsledning, speciellt VD, har dock fortfarande stort inflytande, och ett potentiellt intresse att påverka ersättningspolicyn, vilket lett till att lojalitet- och omsorgsplikter även finns inom den svenska rätten. I kontexten ersättningar till ledande befattningshavare kommer dessa plikter främst till uttryck genom jävsbestämmelser i beredning och beslutande.

Vid en jämförelse mellan regler i USA och i Sverige kommer jag fram till att båda har fokus på att förebygga jäv i processen. Oberoende ersättningsutskott är ett viktigt verktyg i lagstiftarens verktygslåda. I min analys drar jag sambandet mellan lojalitets- och omsorgsplikter och fokuseringen på att ex ante försäkra sig om att beslut uppfyller dessa standarder. Jag kommer fram till att svensk aktiebolagsrätt har en liknande omsorgsreglering som blir resultatet av den amerikanska business judgment rule. Dock är sanktioner baserade på endast culpa svåra att nå framgång med i båda rättsordningar. Vidare spelar lojalitetsplikten, eller duty of loyalty, en större roll i USA i ett ex post perspektiv. Den svenska koden för bolagsstyrnings regler om oberoende ledamöter anser jag vara ett förtydligande av den svenska lojalitetsplikten vars främsta fokus ligger ex ante.

Även om både maktbalans och regleringen av omsorg och lojalitet skiljer sig åt rättsordningarna i emellan så finns det många likheter i regleringen. En av de tydligaste likheterna mellan den amerikanska och den svenska regleringen är att den juridiska regleringen av styrelsens ansvar lägger tyngdvikt på själva beslutsprocessen och inte på innehållet i det slutgiltiga beslutet. (Less)
Abstract
Executive officers and director remuneration was identified as a contributory factor for the low confidence-ratings in trade and industry in the beginning of this millennia. The legislator in both Sweden and in the US has since dealt with the problems by enacting laws as well as regulating through corporate governance codes and stock listing manuals. I have focused on locus of power over executive and director pay and how interests within corporate bodies impinge remuneration decisions.

The board of directors in American listed companies has the exclusive capacity to prepare decisions and to ultimately decide on remuneration. The power includes both executive officer and director remuneration. The board vote is prepared by a... (More)
Executive officers and director remuneration was identified as a contributory factor for the low confidence-ratings in trade and industry in the beginning of this millennia. The legislator in both Sweden and in the US has since dealt with the problems by enacting laws as well as regulating through corporate governance codes and stock listing manuals. I have focused on locus of power over executive and director pay and how interests within corporate bodies impinge remuneration decisions.

The board of directors in American listed companies has the exclusive capacity to prepare decisions and to ultimately decide on remuneration. The power includes both executive officer and director remuneration. The board vote is prepared by a remuneration committee. Shareholders do not have the power to influence either executive officer or director pay. They do however have an opportunity to ex post rate their confidence in the board’s remuneration policy in an advisory shareholder vote, a so called say on pay-vote.

In Swedish listed companies, a yearly proposition for compensation-policy for executive officer remuneration is prepared by a board compensation-committee. The policy for the year to come, or a competing shareholder bid, is put up for a vote at the annual shareholder meeting. The board of directors have to decide individual executive officer compensation within the policy framework. A proposal for director remuneration is prepared by the compensation committee in lieu of the yearly shareholder vote. Director pay is assigned by position and not individually, and is put up for a shareholder vote.

The board of directors has a duty to regard the corporate purpose when preparing and deciding on executive officer and director remuneration. The corporate purpose in both Swedish and American listed companies is by default to maximize shareholder value. Compliance is judicially assured by duties derived from sysslomannarätt in Sweden and the similar construction of fiduciary duties in common law which US law builds on. The duties are more developed in US law, which I explain on the basis of agent theory.

The concentration of stock ownership is far lower on US stock markets compared to Swedish stock markets. That is one reason why the board of directors has a bigger role in American corporate governance. The separation of powers can be compared to a republican form of government. When the division of ownership and power grows, so does the need for control. In this essay I argue that the bigger the separation, the more favorable it is to regulate complex corporate governance issues with standards instead of prohibiting certain actions. Judging the correctness of a corporate decision, such as the remuneration of a CEO, is a complex question where the American board of directors exert great influence, i.e. has great power. That is the reason why ex post-standards for loyalty and care in exertion of corporate powers have developed further in American corporate¬ law than in Sweden.

Shareholders can more easily coordinate and more power can thus be shifted to the principal, i.e. the shareholders, because of the concentration of ownership in Sweden. The Swedish corporation is characterized by a hierarchical structure where the shareholders are omnipotent. The board of directors and the executive officers, especially the CEO, still have considerable influence and a potential interest to influence remuneration policy. As a consequence there is a need for duties of care and loyalty in Swedish jurisprudence. These duties are foremost expressed as rules of disqualification in the context of corporate remuneration.

In a comparison between the rules in the US and in Sweden, I conclude that both have a focus on preventing disqualification in the decision process. Independent compensation committees are an important tool in the legislator’s toolbox. In my analysis I explain the relationship between duties of loyalty and care and the ex ante focus of fulfilling these standards. I conclude that the duty of care in Swedish corporate law is similar to the result given by the American business judgment rule. However, sanctions based on negligence are hard to succeed with in both legal systems. Furthermore, the duty of loyalty plays a bigger part ex post in the US. I regard the Swedish Code of Corporate Governance’s rules on independent directors as a clarification of the Swedish duty of loyalty, which has its focus primarily ex ante.

There are many similarities even though the division of corporate powers and the regulation of care and loyalty differ between the legal systems. One of the most distinct similarities between the American and the Swedish regulation is that the legal regulation of board of director responsibility puts emphasis on the decision-making process rather than the content of the final decision. (Less)
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author
Franzkeit, Kristoffer LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Director and executive officer remuneration decision-making in Swedish and American listed companies
course
JURM02 20122
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
associationsrätt, bolagsrätt, komparativ rätt, bolagsstyrning, corporate governance, komparativ bolagsstyrning, comparative corporate governance, ersättning till ledande befattningshavare, lojalitetsplikt, duty of loyalty, omsorgsplikt, duty of care, business judgment rule, aktiemarkandsbolag, VD, CEO, verkställande direktör, lön, arvode, ersättning, styrelse, styrelseansvar
language
Swedish
id
3350481
date added to LUP
2013-01-28 13:13:11
date last changed
2013-01-28 13:13:11
@misc{3350481,
  abstract     = {Executive officers and director remuneration was identified as a contributory factor for the low confidence-ratings in trade and industry in the beginning of this millennia. The legislator in both Sweden and in the US has since dealt with the problems by enacting laws as well as regulating through corporate governance codes and stock listing manuals. I have focused on locus of power over executive and director pay and how interests within corporate bodies impinge remuneration decisions.

The board of directors in American listed companies has the exclusive capacity to prepare decisions and to ultimately decide on remuneration. The power includes both executive officer and director remuneration. The board vote is prepared by a remuneration committee. Shareholders do not have the power to influence either executive officer or director pay. They do however have an opportunity to ex post rate their confidence in the board’s remuneration policy in an advisory shareholder vote, a so called say on pay-vote.

In Swedish listed companies, a yearly proposition for compensation-policy for executive officer remuneration is prepared by a board compensation-committee. The policy for the year to come, or a competing shareholder bid, is put up for a vote at the annual shareholder meeting. The board of directors have to decide individual executive officer compensation within the policy framework. A proposal for director remuneration is prepared by the compensation committee in lieu of the yearly shareholder vote. Director pay is assigned by position and not individually, and is put up for a shareholder vote.

The board of directors has a duty to regard the corporate purpose when preparing and deciding on executive officer and director remuneration. The corporate purpose in both Swedish and American listed companies is by default to maximize shareholder value. Compliance is judicially assured by duties derived from sysslomannarätt in Sweden and the similar construction of fiduciary duties in common law which US law builds on. The duties are more developed in US law, which I explain on the basis of agent theory.

The concentration of stock ownership is far lower on US stock markets compared to Swedish stock markets. That is one reason why the board of directors has a bigger role in American corporate governance. The separation of powers can be compared to a republican form of government. When the division of ownership and power grows, so does the need for control. In this essay I argue that the bigger the separation, the more favorable it is to regulate complex corporate governance issues with standards instead of prohibiting certain actions. Judging the correctness of a corporate decision, such as the remuneration of a CEO, is a complex question where the American board of directors exert great influence, i.e. has great power. That is the reason why ex post-standards for loyalty and care in exertion of corporate powers have developed further in American corporate¬ law than in Sweden.

Shareholders can more easily coordinate and more power can thus be shifted to the principal, i.e. the shareholders, because of the concentration of ownership in Sweden. The Swedish corporation is characterized by a hierarchical structure where the shareholders are omnipotent. The board of directors and the executive officers, especially the CEO, still have considerable influence and a potential interest to influence remuneration policy. As a consequence there is a need for duties of care and loyalty in Swedish jurisprudence. These duties are foremost expressed as rules of disqualification in the context of corporate remuneration.

In a comparison between the rules in the US and in Sweden, I conclude that both have a focus on preventing disqualification in the decision process. Independent compensation committees are an important tool in the legislator’s toolbox. In my analysis I explain the relationship between duties of loyalty and care and the ex ante focus of fulfilling these standards. I conclude that the duty of care in Swedish corporate law is similar to the result given by the American business judgment rule. However, sanctions based on negligence are hard to succeed with in both legal systems. Furthermore, the duty of loyalty plays a bigger part ex post in the US. I regard the Swedish Code of Corporate Governance’s rules on independent directors as a clarification of the Swedish duty of loyalty, which has its focus primarily ex ante.

There are many similarities even though the division of corporate powers and the regulation of care and loyalty differ between the legal systems. One of the most distinct similarities between the American and the Swedish regulation is that the legal regulation of board of director responsibility puts emphasis on the decision-making process rather than the content of the final decision.},
  author       = {Franzkeit, Kristoffer},
  keyword      = {associationsrätt,bolagsrätt,komparativ rätt,bolagsstyrning,corporate governance,komparativ bolagsstyrning,comparative corporate governance,ersättning till ledande befattningshavare,lojalitetsplikt,duty of loyalty,omsorgsplikt,duty of care,business judgment rule,aktiemarkandsbolag,VD,CEO,verkställande direktör,lön,arvode,ersättning,styrelse,styrelseansvar},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Beslut om ersättning till ledande befattningshavare i svenska och amerikanska aktiemarknadsbolag},
  year         = {2012},
}