In half of the world’s listed companies, the three largest shareholders hold more than 50% of the capital, according to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Holdings by institutional investors total 41% of global market capitalization, the OECD found, many through passive, indexed equity investment strategies, that could result in less scrutiny of the risks and opportunities presented by individual companies, according to Mats Isaksson, head of corporate governance and corporate finance at the OECD. Mr. Isaksson presented data from the Oct. 17 report at Pensions & Investments annual WorldPensionSummit in The Hague on Thursday.
Who owns the world's largest companies and how those owners perform as shareholders is important to the economy, because it affects the amount of risk capital available and how well existing corporations performance is scrutinized, Mr. Isaksson said.
The next largest category of public equity owners are public sector institutions, which hold 14%.
According to the data, which was part of OECD's Capital Market Series, the three largest owners together own 30% of equity capital in 75% of companies.
Private corporations had a 11% stake in the global equity market, while individuals had 7%.
By region, in terms of the regional spread, Asia and the U.S. represented the largest public equity markets in the world accounting for 38% and 34%, respectively, according to the OECD findings.
In the U.S., U.K. and Canada, the average combined holdings held by a company's 10 largest institutional shareholders totaled more than 29% of the company's total equity capital.
In 10 out of the 35 largest OECD markets, institutional investors own more than 15% of the equity capital.
In half of the OECD markets, 40% of listed companies have a single owner holding more than 50% of equity capital.
By comparison in countries such as Argentina or Russia more than 70% of companies have a single shareholder, which owns more than half of the equity capital.
Overall, the research found put the combined value of the world's listed companies at $80 trillion, equal to global GDP.