The “do no evil” folks at Google apparently haven’t given much thought to the virtues of proper corporate governance. Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) blasts the company saying it has the worst corporate governance practices of all the companies in the S&P 500. Seth Goldstein of Majestic Research also takes the company to task and suggests some simple metrics for Google to provide shareholders so that informed comparisons can be made on companies in the search space. Shareholders should have the best possible understanding of what they own.
Over the past few months at Alacra we’ve received an increasing number of requests for corporate governance type content, as well as content that rates and ranks companies and their peers. This includes credit ratings from the ratings agencies, credit default probabilities, simple screening on fundamental and any other comparative data. Why the sudden interest? As Seth describes, “the ironic consequences of Regulation Fair Disclosure and the Spitzer settlements: companies and analysts today are saying less, not more.” Google is a case in point. With less information coming from the companies themselves, financial professionals (both sell-side and buy-side) as well as executives at professional service firms are looking for new sources of data.