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Golf And The UK's Boardrooms

Posted on December 15, 2011 at 5:00 PM

I'm indebted to a colleague with an eagle eye for the following - and no, it isn't pre-Christmas silly season yet.

Forget Eton, Winchester and Tonbridge -it is membership of elite private clubs that continues to influence boardroom appointments, according to research by Edward Cowley and Dr Helen Simpson at the ESRC Centre for Market and Public Organisation (CMPO) at the University of Bristol.

The CMPO research has dug down into a wealth of educational and employment data of board executives and those with positions on boards of trustees, and their affiliation to private member's clubs and golf clubs. It finds that it isn't necessarily sharing the same elite school or Oxbridge college which gets you into the boardroom, but whether you also belong to one of these clubs. Of course it may be because you went to those schools or colleges in the first place that you belong to the clubs....

I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry.  Read it for yourself here. Clearly those in the boardroom should read more Mark Twain: ' "golf is a good walk spoiled."

And possibly yet another 'real' reason why we have few women in the boardrooms of UK plc.

On another note, the National Association of Pension Funds has ridden in to the debate on FTSE listings. Commenting on the FTSE Group’s announcement to increase the minimum free float threshold for UK incorporated companies to 25% of a company’s equity, NAPF Head of Corporate Governance David Paterson said: “This is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t go far enough."

And : "In reality the 25% minimum does not provide the protection for minority investors which is derived from being able to block a majority shareholder resolution. FTSE should set up a clear timetable for reviewing the 25% minimum as we believe that shareowners would be better served by a move towards 50%."

The NAPF says it believes that the free float threshold should be increased to 50% to align it with the requirement for overseas incorporated companies. It says this would eliminate the possibility of overseas companies avoiding the need to have a 50% free float by incorporating in the UK or by using a UK shell holding company.

Are institutional investors all waking up at once in time for Christmas? I recommend lots of brisk walks to accelerate the trend, not one of them on a golf course.


Categories: Corporate, Behaviour, Appointments