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The Mills Companies in Occitanie: Emergence and Governance of Centuries-Old Joint-Stock Companies

David LE BRIS * Toulouse Business School, University of Toulouse. Contact :
William N. GOETZMANN ** Yale School of Management, Yale University.
Sébastien POUGET ** Professeur des Universités, Toulouse School of Economics, Université Toulouse 1 Capitole, TSM.

Starting from the Middle-Age, a novel type of corporate governance developed on the banks of Occitanian rivers to manage mills organized as shareholding companies. To address timeless issues created by the separation between ownership and control, these companies find solutions that are often very close to modern ones. Shareholders benefit from limited liability, take major decisions during general assembly meetings, nominate directors and account auditors to look after their interests and put in place monitoring policies. Other aspects are more original such as a policy of no free-cash-flows, directors with annual mandates, and the obligation for a designated shareholder to work for the good of the company. To understand this original governance, the context of the emergence of these companies is first presented.

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