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The Quality of Information Provided by Dual‐Class Firms
American Business Law Journal  (IF1.533),  Pub Date : 2020-10-29, DOI: 10.1111/ablj.12167
Dov Solomon, Rimona Palas, Amos Baranes

When Google went public with a dual‐class capital structure in which shares owned by the founders confer greater voting rights than shares issued to public investors, its cofounders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, promised to provide investors with high‐quality information about the company. Using the words of Warren Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, another dual‐class firm, they promised shareholders, “We won’t ‘smooth’ quarterly or annual results: If earnings figures are lumpy when they reach headquarters, they will be lumpy when they reach you.” Page, Brin, and Buffett definitely understood the importance of quality information to their investors, especially in dual‐class structures. But do dual‐class companies really provide investors with credible financial information? Contrary to the assumption of agency theory that dual‐class firms are less transparent, we find empirically that these companies do provide credible information to their investors. Our results suggest that the quality of financial reports, as measured by their ability to predict change in future earnings, is higher for dual‐class companies than for their single‐class counterparts. These findings may be explained by the unique relations created in dual‐class firms in which the founders provide investors with higher‐quality information in exchange for superior voting rights. The article contributes to the heated debate about the transparency of dual‐class companies by providing policy makers with important insights on the quality of information provided by these companies. Our findings suggest that there is no need for stricter regulation with regard to disclosure of financial information by dual‐class firms.