Corporate Ownership Around the World


  • Rafael La Porta,

  • Florencio Lopez-De-Silanes,

  • Andrei Shleifer

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    • Harvard University. We are grateful to Alexander Aganin, Carlos Berdejo-Izquierdo, David Grossman, Bernardo Lopez-Morton, Tatiana Nenova, Ekaterina Trizlova, and David Witkin for help with assembling the data, to Lucian Bebchuk, Marco Becht, Mihir Desai, Oliver Hart, Louis Kaplow, Mark Roe, Roberta Romano, René Stulz, Robert Vishny, Luigi Zingales, and two anonymous referees for advice, and to the NSF for financial support.


We use data on ownership structures of large corporations in 27 wealthy economies to identify the ultimate controlling shareholders of these firms. We find that, except in economies with very good shareholder protection, relatively few of these firms are widely held, in contrast to Berle and Means's image of ownership of the modern corporation. Rather, these firms are typically controlled by families or the State. Equity control by financial institutions is far less common. The controlling shareholders typically have power over firms significantly in excess of their cash flow rights, primarily through the use of pyramids and participation in management.