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The Complexity of Corporate Group Governance

O livier BAILLY * Senior advisor, Associés en gouvernance. Contact : oapbailly@gmail.com.
P ascal DURAND-BARTHEZ ** Avocat, Barreau de Paris. Contact : pdurandbarthez@gmail.com.


Large companies tend to create increasingly large numbers of subsidiaries and the good management of these groups of subsidiaries requires adequate governance practices, ensuring the implementation of the policies decided at the top while respecting the specificities of the subsidiaries. The first question relates to the autonomy of the companies’ “corporate interest”, implying that parent companies have to be respectful of the subsidiaries’ interest in order to avoid the risk of “misappropriation of corporate assets”, and have to set up procedures for related parties transactions. This does impose constraints to the implementation of group policies, but does not prevent it if these policies are not adverse to the subsidiaries’ interests, as in the case of cash pooling agreements. The principle of legal autonomy also implies that each subsidiary has its own governance bodies and the good operation of these bodies must be overseen by the parent company. The directors appointed by the parent company should be carefully trained for these duties, even though it may be a “side product” of their main professional activities, as indeed they may incur personal civil and criminal liabilities. This shows that group governance, although not much dealt with by corporate governance codes and academic research, should be recognized as a key element of good governance.


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Footnotes

1   

Source : documents de référence 2017, Total (p. 324) et Veolia (p. 191).

2   

European Banking Authority, Guidelines on internal governance under Directive 2013/36/EU, septembre 2017.

3   

Voir IFA, Gouvernance des filiales d'un groupe, principes et bonnes pratiques, mai 2016.

Voir également Jean-Philippe Roulet, « Du gouvernement d'entreprise de sociétés cotées à la gouvernance de groupe », Cahiers de droit de l'entreprise, mars-avril 2016, p. 46.

4   

Code de commerce, art. L. 225-231.

5   

Loi n° 2016-1691 du 9 décembre 2016 relative à la transparence, à la lutte contre la corruption et à la modernisation de la vie économique (loi Sapin 2), art. 17.

6   

Code de commerce, art. L. 225-102-4, créé par la Loi n° 2017-399 du 27 mars 2017 relative au devoir de vigilance des sociétés-mères et des entreprises donneuses d'ordre.

7   

Code de commerce, art. L. 225-38 et suivants.

8   

Directive n° 2013/36 du Parlement et du Conseil, 26 juin 2013, concernant l'accès à l'activité des établissements de crédit et la surveillance prudentielle des établissements de crédit et des entreprises d'investissement.

9   

Code monétaire et financier, art L. 511-41-1 B.

10   

Code monétaire et financier, art. L. 511-51.

11   

Code de commerce, art. L. 225-37, 5e al.


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