by Craig E. Aronoff, Ph.D.
Co-Founder and Principle of the Family Business Consulting Group
“I’m a minority shareholder in a family business,”the phone call began.”I’m hoping to start a national association of people in situations like mine.”
“We could learn more about our rights,”she continued.”We could organize and try to pass laws more favorable to minority shareholders.We might even organize a market for trading our shares.”
The caller wanted my help.”Why do I think your association is designed for dissident minority shareholders?”I asked.”What has upset you enough to want to organize?”
She told me that her parents had left her shares in the family business.She wanted to work there, but women were systematically excluded from involvement.She sought to be on the board.Her brothers vetoed the idea.Whenever she asked for information about her investment, she was denied.Efforts to gain some value from her parent’s gift through dividends were rebuffed.Her attempts to sell her shares to the business or to her brothers got no response. More…