Billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak suddenly bought four companies and lifted their share prices sky-high. The fly in the ointment was his affection for headlines, which led him to say some bizarre things, not usually the fare for people who own publicly traded companies.
Gaydamak said, for instance, that he'd be infusing his Russian property operations into Ocif Investment & Development (TASE: OCIF). Regarding Tiv Taam, he said he'd close its supermarkets on Shabbat and clean out its refrigerators of That Meat.
Gaydamak's attack of kashruth may be good news for the pigs of Israel, but it may not be the wisest business decision for Tiv Taam. In any case, any change in a company's business model must be thought through thoroughly and brought before its management and board of directors for decision. And in any case, Gaydamak doesn't own so much as one single Tiv Taam share just yet: the deal has yet to close. The Tiv Taam board of directors will accept his decision (as the controlling shareholder) only if it makes economic sense and is clearly the best move for the investing public.
The Russian-Israeli billionaire isn't the only new boy on the block who doesn't know how to behave in stock market circles. Scientists, ad executives, politicians, doctors, celebs and real estate moguls who managed to ride a wave are leading publicly traded companies in which little people from Hadera and institutional investors like provident and mutual funds also own shares.
The tidal wave of offerings sweeping over the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in recent months has washed in a slew of people who don't know the rules. Rules of whom to report to, when, and mainly about what. That isn't only true of the issuers and buyers: the controlling shareholders who sell their companies should also ensure they're handing the company over to good hands.
Back in 1984, Aharon Barak, a justice at the Supreme Court, set a milestone in his ruling on the case of Bank-Feuchtwanger, regarding the duty of a controlling shareholders towards the minority shareholders.
Barak claimed that although the duty of the controlling shareholders towards the minority shareholders ostensibly conflicted with the principle of freedom of property, it was not baseless. "A share is an asset that its owners may do with what they like, but that is not limitless," he wrote.
Meaning, even if you own a company, you can't just do what you please.
Welcome to the stock market, Arcadi Gaydamak and all the rest. But please, learn to behave.
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