Government Should Let Private Companies Govern Themselves

Privately owned companies have largely dodged inclusion in debates on corporate governance. Lucky them. They do not have outside shareholders and are thought too small to matter. Or perhaps they just defy codification. The entrepreneurial Sir Richard Branson is fond of saying he always carries scissors to cut the red tape that gets in his way. But the collapse of BHS, the store chain formerly owned by Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia, has changed things. BHS’s failure has jeopardised jobs and pensions of thousands of workers, prompting an outcry against “the unacceptable face of capitalism” and “apogees of weak corporate governance”. Insolvencies of high-street names such as BHS are fostering perceptions that private companies are poorly run and “something is systematically wrong with their governance,” says Oliver Parry, the Institute of Directors’ head of governance.


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