Dual-Class Enablers

CII invites members seeking to elevate their engagement on the “one share, one vote” principle to leverage CII’s “Dual-Class Enablers” list, whether as a resource for investor-company dialogue or to consider voting against directors involved in pre-IPO board decisions to embrace dual-class equity structures.

The Dual-Class Enablers list tracks directors of U.S. boards involved in decisions to go public with a dual class structure since 2018.  Directors are excluded from the list to the extent that they ensured the inclusion of a time-based sunset of seven years or less on the structure. The list excludes IPOs valued at less than $200 million, as well as SPACs, FPIs and REITs. Starting in 2021, the list includes companies that go public through a direct listing or a de-SPAC merger.

The list provides the names of other public company boards on which those individuals actively serve. The list also includes any time-based sunset provisions in excess of seven years, allowing users to gauge for themelves whether the company has a reasonable path to alignment. The list will be updated on an annual basis, both with respect to new IPOs and board members' active external directorships. 

Unequal structures generally render low-vote shareholders powerless to exert direct accountability on board members who facilitated dual-class structures at the critical juncture of the IPO. However, by voting against or withholding support from these same individuals at other, single-class boards on which they sit, investors can bring some degree of accountability. This voting strategy is not solely about retribution, but also about improving director diligence during the pre-IPO process; widespread adoption of "porting" opposition to other company boards could cause private company directors to more carefully consider all sides of the issue before acceding to founders' and/or company-retained advisors' preference for long-term entrenchment. 

Since its founding in the 1980s, CII has endorsed the principle of "one share, one vote": every share of a public company's common stock should have equal voting rights. The vast majority of U.S. publicly traded companies (about 9 in 10) have a "one share, one vote" structure. Other companies typically have a superior class of common stock with more votes per share than an inferior class, with founders, their families or other insiders holding the superior class. In the first half of 2019, 26% of IPOs (excluding FPIs, SPACs, and REITs) had dual-class structures with unequal voting rights, up from 11% in 2018. For more information on dual-class, see CII’s Dual-Class Stock page.