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阿里巴巴管理架构可能对公共投资者不利

更新时间:2014-9-18 12:42:20 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Alibaba’s Governance Leaves Investors at a Disadvantage
阿里巴巴管理架构可能对公共投资者不利

Lucian Bebchuk is professor of law, economics and finance and director of the program on corporate governance at Harvard law School.

卢西恩·别布丘克(Lucian Bebchuk)是法学、经济学和金融学教授,也是哈佛大学法学院(Harvard Law School)公司治理项目的主管。

Wall Street is eagerly watching what is expected to be one of the largest initial public offering in history: the offering of the Chinese Internet retailer Alibaba at the end of this week. Investors have been described by the media as “salivating” and “flooding underwriters with orders.” It is important for investors, however, to keep their eyes open to the serious governance risks accompanying an Alibaba investment.

华尔街正热切关注着中国互联网零售商阿里巴巴集团本周末的首次公开募股(IPO),预计它将成为有史以来规模最大的IPO之一。媒体报道称,投资者“垂涎”于这次IPO,“承销商已被订单淹没”。不过,投资者却有必要注意到,投资阿里巴巴时面临严重的公司治理风险。

Several factors combine to create such risks. For one, insiders have a permanent lock on control of the company but hold only a small minority of the equity capital. Then, there are many ways to divert value to affiliated entities, but there are weak mechanisms to prevent this. Consequently, public investors should worry that, over time, a significant amount of the value created by Alibaba would not be shared with them.

这些风险源于多重因素。首先,内部人士虽然只拥有少数股权,但却对公司拥有永久的控制权。其次,阿里巴巴可以有许多办法把价值转移给相关实体,而阻止它这么做的机制却十分脆弱。因此,公众投资者应该担心的是,未来阿里巴巴创造的价值中,将有相当大一部分不会拿出来与他们分享。

In Alibaba, control is going to be locked forever in the hands of a group of insiders known as the Alibaba Partnership. These are all managers in the Alibaba Group or related companies. The Partnership will have the exclusive right to nominate candidates for a majority of the board seats. Furthermore, if the Partnership fails to obtain shareholder approval for its candidates, it will be entitled “in its sole discretion and without the need for any additional shareholder approval” to appoint directors unilaterally, thus ensuring that its chosen directors always have a majority of board seats. Many public companies around the world, especially in emerging economies, have a large shareholder with a lock on control. Such controlling shareholders, however, often own a substantial portion of the equity capital that provides them with beneficial incentives. In the case of Alibaba, investors need to worry about the relatively small stake held by the members of the controlling Alibaba Partnership.

在阿里巴巴,掌握公司控制权的永远是一群内部人士,也就是阿里巴巴的合伙人。这些合伙人都是阿里巴巴集团或相关企业的管理人员。他们将拥有提名多数董事的独有权利。此外,如果合伙人没能让股东通过他们提名的候选人,他们将有权“全权决定且不需要获得任何股东的支持”,就可以单方面任命董事,从而确保他们选择的董事总是能够占据董事会的大部分席位。在世界范围内,特别是新兴经济体,很多上市公司都有一个拥有控制权的大股东。但此类控股股东的资金在权益资本中占据了大部分,他们有追求利益的动力。至于阿里巴巴,投资者有担心的必要,因为阿里巴巴合伙人所持有的股份相对较少。

After the I.P.O., Alibaba’s executive chairman, Jack Ma, is expected to hold 7.8 percent of the shares and all the directors and executive officers will hold together 13.1 percent. Over time, insiders may well cash out some of their current holding, but Alibaba’s governance structure would ensure that directors chosen by the Alibaba Partnership will forever control the board, regardless of the size of the stake held by the Partnership’s members.

上市之后,阿里巴巴执行主席马云将持有7.8%的股份,所有董事及高管持有的股份总额将达到13.1%。一段时间后,内部人士可能会将一部分股份套现,但阿里巴巴的管理架构将确保阿里巴巴合伙人选出的董事将永远控制董事会,无论合伙人持有多少股份。

With an absolute lock on control and a limited fraction of the equity capital, the Alibaba insiders will have substantial incentives to divert value from Alibaba to other entities in which they own a substantial percentage of the equity. This can be done by placing future profitable opportunities in such entities, or making deals with such entities on terms that favor them at the expense of Alibaba.

有了这种绝对的永久控制,加上一小部分的权益资本,阿里巴巴的内部小圈子将有巨大的动力将该集团的价值转移到他们拥有可观股本的其他实体中。要做到这一点,可以采用的方式是把未来的赚钱机会放到此类实体中,或是与之做交易时达成对阿里巴巴不利的条款。

Alibaba’s prospectus discloses information about various past “related party transactions,” and these disclosures reflect the significance and risks to public investors of such transactions. For example, in 2010, Alibaba divested its control and ownership of Alipay, which does all of the financial processing for Alibaba, and Alipay is now fully controlled and substantially owned by Alibaba’s executive chairman.

阿里巴巴的招股书中披露了过去多笔“关联方交易”的信息,而这些披露反映了此类交易对公众投资者的重要性和风险。例如,2010年,阿里巴巴剥离了对支付宝的控制权和所有权。支付宝承担了阿里巴巴旗下平台的所有付款流程,如今变为由马云本人完全控制并大体持有。

Public investors should worry not only about whether the Alibaba’s divesting of Alipay benefited Mr. Ma at the expense of Alibaba, but also about the terms of the future transactions between Alibaba and Alipay. Because Alibaba relies on Alipay “to conduct substantially all of the payment processing” in its marketplace, these terms are important for Alibaba’s future success.

公共投资者应当担忧的,不限于阿里巴巴剥离支付宝是否以自身为代价让马云受益,还有阿里巴巴与支付宝之间未来交易的条款。由于阿里巴巴依赖支付宝进行旗下市场中“近乎全部的付款流程”,这些条款维系着阿里巴巴未来的成功。

Mr. Ma owns a larger fraction of Alipay’s equity capital than of Alibaba’s, so he would economically benefit from terms that would disfavor Alibaba. Indeed, given the circumstances, the I.P.O. prospectus acknowledges that Mr. Ma may act to resolve Alibaba-Alipay conflicts not in Alibaba’s favor.

马云在支付宝的持股比例超过了在阿里巴巴的持股比例,因此,他可以从那些不利于阿里巴巴的条款中获取经济收益。实际上,鉴于这些情况,阿里巴巴的招股书承认,在化解阿里巴巴与支付宝的冲突时,马云或许会不站在前者这一边。

The prospectus seeks to allay investor concerns, however, by indicating that Mr. Ma intends to reduce his stake in in Alipay within three to five years, including by having shares in Alipay granted to Alibaba employees. But stating such an intention does not represent an irreversible legal commitment. Furthermore, transfers of Alipay ownership stakes from Mr. Ma to other members of the Alibaba Partnership would still leave the Partnership’s aggregate interest to be decidedly on the side of Alipay rather than Alibaba.

不过,招股书试图打消投资者的忧虑,指出马云有意在三五年内减持在支付宝的股份,包括将其转给一些阿里巴巴的内部人士。不过,表明这样的意图并不意味着这是不可反悔的法律承诺。此外,将支付宝的所有权股从马云手中转到其他的阿里巴巴合伙人那里,仍会让合伙人的总体利益明确无误地落到支付宝一边,而非阿里巴巴。

Given the significant related party transactions that have already taken place, and the prospect of such transactions in the future, Alibaba tried to placate investors by putting in a “new related party transaction policy.” But this new policy hardly provides investors with solid protection. Unlike charter and bylaw provisions, corporate policies are generally not binding. Furthermore, Alibaba’s policy explicitly allows the board, where the nominees of Alibaba partnership will always have a majority, to approve any exceptions to the policy that the board chooses.

鉴于已经出现过重大的关联方交易,而且未来仍可能发生,阿里巴巴试图通过设置“关联方交易新政策”来安抚投资者。可是,这种新政策几乎不能为投资者提供切实的保障。不同于公司的规章制度,企业政策基本上没有约束力。况且,阿里巴巴的政策明确允许董事局按照自身意愿批准政策例外,而董事局中阿里巴巴合伙人任命的人选将永远占据多数。

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