‘Hot IPOs’ Confront ESG Questions About Corporate Governance
(Bloomberg) -- While investor interest in “hot IPOs” remains buoyant, questions about the companies’ corporate governance may weigh on their valuations, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Rob Du Boff and Shaheen Contractor.
Companies including Snowflake Inc., Airbnb Inc., Palantir Technologies Inc. and Robinhood Markets Inc., which recently sold shares in initial public offerings, are all trailing their tech peers on one or more aspect of board insight such as chair independence and diversity, Du Boff and Contractor wrote in a research note. Almost all of the companies employ a dual-class share structure with unequal voting rights, limiting minority shareholders’ voice in pushing for change, the analysts said.
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Using the methodology for Bloomberg’s board-composition score (a part of the governance pillar), based on data from public filings, Robinhood would find itself in the bottom quintile among U.S. tech companies, trailing on board diversity and independence, Du Boff and Contractor said.
Nasdaq Inc. is leading a charge to bolster diversity on corporate boards. The stock exchange wants its listed companies to have at least one female board member and at least one who identifies as an underrepresented minority or LGBTQ -- or explain why they don’t. Women now hold at least 30% of seats on a majority of S&P 500 boards for the first time, a result of years of investor pressure and regulations requiring more gender diversity among corporate directors.
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