New corporate governance paradigms are all the rage.
On Wednesday, I was at Columbia University for the 2016 Millstein Governance Forum, a day-long event dedicated to “Governance, leadership and the future of the corporation.” The Forum, and the Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership, based at the law school, is named for Ira Millstein, a Weil, Gotshal & Manges lawyer who was in fine form discussing his latest book, The Activist Director. By coincidence, a new memo hit my inbox the day previously from Martin Lipton, Steven Rosenblum and Karessa Cain of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.
Martin Lipton and Ira Millstein make for entertaining comparisons. Long time sparring partners (the latter’s words), each approaches issues of corporate governance and the long-term interests of corporations in different ways. To Lipton, shareholder activists are the root of all short-termism in business and “well-run corporations should be protected by their major shareholders from activist attacks, thereby giving these corporations the breathing room needed to make strategic investments and pursue long-term strategies.”