This article attempts to answer the following questions: Who ultimately owns firms listed in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries? Does ownership structure depend…
This article attempts to answer the following questions: Who ultimately owns firms listed in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries? Does ownership structure depend on the institutional context? How does ownership affect firm performance? Do institutional factors influence the ownership–performance relationship?
We apply univariate analyses and generalised methods of moments estimations for a sample of 692 GCC listed firms during 2009–2015.
Our results reveal that corporations are mainly controlled by the state or families, the ownership structure is highly concentrated and pyramid structures are common in the region. Ownership is more concentrated in non-financial than financial firms, and ownership concentration and shareholder identity differ by institutional country setting. Finally, ownership concentration does not influence performance, but formal institutions play a moderating role in the relationship.
As our findings reveal potential type II agency problems due to ownership concentration, policymakers should raise awareness of professional corporate governance practices and tailor them to GCC countries’ institutional contexts.
Even with the introduction of new regulations by some GCC states to protect minority investors and promote corporate governance practices, ownership concentration is a rigid structure, and its use by investors to protect their economic endowment and power is culturally embedded.
Although previous studies have analysed ownership concentration and large shareholders’ identities across countries, this study fills a research gap investigating this phenomenon in-depth in emerging economies.