Shareholder agreements in publicly traded companies: a comparison between the U.S. and Brazil

Helena Masullo


We know remarkably little about the use of shareholders’ agreements in publicly held companies. This article builds upon empirical evidence to advance the theoretical understanding in comparative law of how and why shareholders agreements are used by publicly traded firms. It also contributes to the existing literature on comparative contract design.

The evidence suggests great divergence in the incidence and content of shareholder agreements in both countries. Consistent with prior studies, we find that shareholder agreements are pervasive in Brazilian corporate culture, where they are used to coordinate corporate decision-making and bind directors’ votes. But while conventional wisdom suggests that U.S. public corporations do not have shareholders agreements, such understanding is inaccurate. Nevertheless, the existing agreements differ from their Brazilian counterparts in that they are usually used in order to achieve a specific corporate transaction.

Many findings of this study are surprising and challenge the current thinking in terms of contract design. For example, it finds no major stylistic differences between the agreements of the two countries, which contradicts the prevailing belief that U.S. contracts are necessarily longer than those of civil-law countries. Moreover, while arbitration appears as the preferred method of dispute resolution in Brazil, U.S. parties opt for judicial dispute resolution with greater frequency, mostly in Delaware and New York courts.

Texto completo:



ALDRIGHI, Dante Mendes; MAZZER NETO, Ro¬berto. Estrutura de propriedade e de controle das em¬presas de capital aberto no Brasil. Revista de Economia Política, v. 25, 2005.

BERLE Adolf A.; MEANS, Gardiner C. The Modern Corporation and Private Property. New Brunswick: Tran-saction, 1967.

BERLE, Adolf A.; MEANS, Gardiner C. A moderna sociedade anônima e a propriedade privada. Rio de Janeiro: Nova Cultural, 1988.

BLACK, Bernard S. Shareholder Activism and Corpo¬rate Governance in the United States. The New Palgra¬ve Dictionary of Economics and the Law, v. 3, 1998.

Brazilian Corporation Law (Law 6.404).

BOVESPA. O que são segmentos de listagem. Available at:

CARVALHOSA, Modesto. Acordo de acionistas: home¬nagem a Celso Barbi Filho. São Paulo: Saraiva, 2011. EIZIRIK, Nelson. A lei das S/A comentada. Cidade: Edi¬tora, 2011.

CLARK, Robert. Corporate Law. Litte, Brown, 1986.

Corporation Law Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, The Enforceability and Effec¬tiveness of Typical Shareholders Agreement Provisions, 65 The Business Lawyer (2010).

DEL. CODE ANN. (2001).

GOMES, Armando; NOVAES, Walter. Multiple Large Shareholders in Corporate Governance 26 (February 17, 1999).

GORDON, Jeffrey N.; GILSON, Ronald J. The Agency Costs of Agency Capitalism: Activist Investors and the Revaluation of Governance Rights. Columbia Law Re¬view, v. 113, 2013.

GORGA, Érica. Changing The Paradigm Of Stock Ownership From Concentrated Towards Dispersed Ownership? Evidence From Brazil And Consequences For Emerging Countries. Northwestern Journal of Interna¬tional Law & Business, v. 29, 2009.

GORGA, Érica; GELMAN, Marina. O esvaziamento crescente do conselho de administração como efeito da vinculação de seu voto a acordos de acionistas no Bra¬sil. In: INSTITUTO BRASILEIRO GOVERNANÇA CORPORATIVA, 13, 2012, São Paulo. Anais... São Paulo, 2012.

GORGA, Érica. Direito societário atual. Rio de Janeiro: Elsevier, 2013.

GORGA, Érica. Corporate Control & Governance af¬ter a Decade from “Novo Mercado”: Changes in Ow¬nership Structures and Shareholder Power in Brazil. Yale Law & Economics Research Paper, n. 502, 2014.

HANSMANN, Henry; PARGENDLER, Mariana; GILSON, Ronald J. Regulatory Dualism as a Deve¬lopment Strategy: Corporate Reform in Brazil, the United States, and the European Union. Stanford Law Review, Stanford, v. 63, 2011.

HOLDERNESS Clifford G. The Myth of Diffuse Ow¬nership in the United States. Review of Financial Studies, v. 22, n. 4, 2009.

IBCG. Governança Corporativa. Available at: http://

LANGBEIM, John H. Comparative Civil Procedure and the Style of Complex Contracts. American Journal of Comparative Law, v. 35, 1987.

LA PORTA, Rafael; LOPES-DE-SILANES, Florencio; SHLEIFER, Andrei. Corporate Ownership Around the World. Journal of Finance, Cambridge, v.2, 1999.

Law of Introduction to the Civil Code (Decree-Law No. 4657).

LEAL, Ricardo P. C.; CANELLAS, Thiago Costa. Evo¬lução da Estrutura de Controle das Empresas Listadas na Bovespa entre 2004 e 2006, 387 Relatórios Coppead 01, (2009).

LUNDMARK, Thomas. Verbose Contracts. American Journal of Comparative Law, Michigan, v. 49, 2001;

ROE, Mark J. Strong managers, weak owners: the po¬litical roots of american corporate finance. Cambrigde: Harward Law, 1994.

Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (48 Stat. 881, 15 U.S.C. 78a-78kk). 419

VENTORUZZO, Marco. Why Shareholders’ Agree¬ments are not used in U.S. Listed Corporations: a Co-nundrum in Search of an Explanation. Penn State Law Research Paper, n. 42, 2013.

WOLFENZON, Daniel; BENNEDSEN, Morten. The Balance of Power in Closely Held Corporations. Journal of Financial Economics, v. 58, 2000.

The World Bank, World Development Indicators: Stock mar¬kets, 2014. Available at: .


ISSN 2236-997X (impresso) - ISSN 2237-1036 (on-line)

Desenvolvido por:

Logomarca da Lepidus Tecnologia