By Fred R. Kaen

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The regulatory environment has also favoured greater activism on the part of financial institutions. The UK Corporate Governance Code, for example, urges institutional shareholders to use their votes and to enter into a dialogue with businesses. Forms of activism It is important to be clear what is meant by the term ‘shareholder activism’ as it can take various forms. In its simplest form it involves taking a more active role in voting for or against the resolutions put before the annual general meeting or any extraordinary general meeting of the business.

6 briefly describes two of these. 6 Profiting from ethics? In 2003 the Institute for Business Ethics produced a report which suggested that businesses with a code of ethics produced financial performance superior to those without a code. It compared a group of companies in the FTSE 250 index over a period of four years, divided into those that had codes of ethics for five years or more and those that explicitly said they did not. * Some caveats are perhaps in order. The time period for the study is not that long.

Secondly, does shareholder activism really make a difference to corporate performance? The research on this topic so far has been fairly sparse but early research in the USA is not encouraging for those who urge financial institutions to take a more active approach. We may have to wait some while, however, for clear answers to these questions. SUMMARY The main points in this chapter may be summarised as follows: The finance function ● Helps managers in carrying out their tasks of strategic management, operations management and risk management.

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