Lucian Bebchuk is professor of law, economics and finance and director of the program on corporate governance at Harvard law School.卢西恩·别布丘克(Lucian Bebchuk)是法学、经济学和金融学教授,也是哈佛大学法学院(Harvard Law School)公司管理项目的主管。Wall Street is eagerly watching what is expected to be one of the largest initial public offering in history: the offering of the Chinese Internet retailer Alibaba at the end of this week. Investors have been described by the media as “salivating” and “flooding underwriters with orders.” It is important for investors, however, to keep their eyes open to the serious governance risks accompanying an Alibaba investment.华尔街于是以盼望注目着中国互联网零售商阿里巴巴集团本周末的首次公开发表IPO(IPO),预计它将沦为有史以来规模仅次于的IPO之一。媒体报道称之为,投资者“觊觎”于这次IPO,“承销商已被订单水淹”。

不过,投资者却有适当注意到,投资阿里巴巴时面对相当严重的公司管理风险。Several factors combine to create such risks. For one, insiders have a permanent lock on control of the company but hold only a small minority of the equity capital. Then, there are many ways to divert value to affiliated entities, but there are weak mechanisms to prevent this. Consequently, public investors should worry that, over time, a significant amount of the value created by Alibaba would not be shared with them.这些风险源自多重因素。

首先,内部人士虽然只享有少数股权,但却对公司享有永久的控制权。其次,阿里巴巴可以有许多办法把价值移往给涉及实体,而制止它这么做到的机制却十分薄弱。因此,公众投资者应当担忧的是,未来阿里巴巴建构的价值中,将有相当大一部分会拿出来与他们共享。In Alibaba, control is going to be locked forever in the hands of a group of insiders known as the Alibaba Partnership. These are all managers in the Alibaba Group or related companies. The Partnership will have the exclusive right to nominate candidates for a majority of the board seats. Furthermore, if the Partnership fails to obtain shareholder approval for its candidates, it will be entitled “in its sole discretion and without the need for any additional shareholder approval” to appoint directors unilaterally, thus ensuring that its chosen directors always have a majority of board seats. Many public companies around the world, especially in emerging economies, have a large shareholder with a lock on control. Such controlling shareholders, however, often own a substantial portion of the equity capital that provides them with beneficial incentives. In the case of Alibaba, investors need to worry about the relatively small stake held by the members of the controlling Alibaba Partnership.在阿里巴巴,掌控公司控制权的总有一天是一群内部人士,也就是阿里巴巴的合伙人。



至于阿里巴巴,投资者有担忧的适当,因为阿里巴巴合伙人所持有人的股份比较较较少。After the I.P.O., Alibaba’s executive chairman, Jack Ma, is expected to hold 7.8 percent of the shares and all the directors and executive officers will hold together 13.1 percent. Over time, insiders may well cash out some of their current holding, but Alibaba’s governance structure would ensure that directors chosen by the Alibaba Partnership will forever control the board, regardless of the size of the stake held by the Partnership’s members.上市之后,阿里巴巴执行主席马云将持有人7.8%的股份,所有董事及高管持有人的股份总额将超过13.1%。

一段时间后,内部人士可能会将一部分股份买入,但阿里巴巴的管理架构将保证阿里巴巴合伙人投票决定的董事将总有一天掌控董事会,无论合伙人持有人多少股份。With an absolute lock on control and a limited fraction of the equity capital, the Alibaba insiders will have substantial incentives to divert value from Alibaba to other entities in which they own a substantial percentage of the equity. This can be done by placing future profitable opportunities in such entities, or making deals with such entities on terms that favor them at the expense of Alibaba.有了这种意味著的永久掌控,再加一小部分的权益资本,阿里巴巴的内部小圈子将有极大的动力将该集团的价值移往到他们享有相当可观股本的其他实体中。


要做这一点,可以使用的方式是把未来的赚机会放在此类实体中,或是与之做到交易时达成协议对阿里巴巴有利的条款。Alibaba’s prospectus discloses information about various past “related party transactions,” and these disclosures reflect the significance and risks to public investors of such transactions. For example, in 2010, Alibaba divested its control and ownership of Alipay, which does all of the financial processing for Alibaba, and Alipay is now fully controlled and substantially owned by Alibaba’s executive chairman.阿里巴巴的招股书中透露了过去多笔“关联方交易”的信息,而这些透露体现了此类交易对公众投资者的重要性和风险。例如,2010年,阿里巴巴挤压了对支付宝的控制权和所有权。

支付宝分担了阿里巴巴旗下平台的所有缴付流程,如今变成由马云本人几乎掌控并大体持有人。Public investors should worry not only about whether the Alibaba’s divesting of Alipay benefited Mr. Ma at the expense of Alibaba, but also about the terms of the future transactions between Alibaba and Alipay. Because Alibaba relies on Alipay “to conduct substantially all of the payment processing” in its marketplace, these terms are important for Alibaba’s future success.公共投资者应该忧虑的,不仅限于阿里巴巴挤压支付宝否以自身为代价让马云获益,还有阿里巴巴与支付宝之间未来交易的条款。由于阿里巴巴倚赖支付宝展开旗下市场中“几近全部的缴付流程”,这些条款维系着阿里巴巴未来的顺利。

Mr. Ma owns a larger fraction of Alipay’s equity capital than of Alibaba’s, so he would economically benefit from terms that would disfavor Alibaba. Indeed, given the circumstances, the I.P.O. prospectus acknowledges that Mr. Ma may act to resolve Alibaba-Alipay conflicts not in Alibaba’s favor.马云在支付宝的股权比例多达了在阿里巴巴的股权比例,因此,他可以从那些有利于阿里巴巴的条款中提供经济收益。实质上,鉴于这些情况,阿里巴巴的招股书否认,在消弭阿里巴巴与支付宝的冲突时,马云也许不会不车站在前者这一旁。

The prospectus seeks to allay investor concerns, however, by indicating that Mr. Ma intends to reduce his stake in in Alipay within three to five years, including by having shares in Alipay granted to Alibaba employees. But stating such an intention does not represent an irreversible legal commitment. Furthermore, transfers of Alipay ownership stakes from Mr. Ma to other members of the Alibaba Partnership would still leave the Partnership’s aggregate interest to be decidedly on the side of Alipay rather than Alibaba.不过,招股书企图萌生投资者的担忧,认为马云无意在三五年内平安保险在支付宝的股份,还包括将其转交一些阿里巴巴的内部人士。不过,指出这样的意图并不意味著这是不能答应的法律允诺。此外,将支付宝的所有权股从马云手中并转到其他的阿里巴巴合伙人那里,仍不会让合伙人的总体利益具体正确性地落在支付宝一旁,而非阿里巴巴。Given the significant related party transactions that have already taken place, and the prospect of such transactions in the future, Alibaba tried to placate investors by putting in a “new related party transaction policy.” But this new policy hardly provides investors with solid protection. Unlike charter and bylaw provisions, corporate policies are generally not binding. Furthermore, Alibaba’s policy explicitly allows the board, where the nominees of Alibaba partnership will always have a majority, to approve any exceptions to the policy that the board chooses.鉴于早已经常出现过根本性的关联方交易,而且未来仍有可能再次发生,阿里巴巴企图通过设置“关联方交易新政策”来安抚投资者。


Of course, the Alibaba partners might elect not to take advantage of the opportunities for diversion provided to them by Alibaba’s structure. And, even if the partners do use such opportunities, the future business success of Alibaba might be large enough to make up for the costs of diversions and leave public investors with good returns on their investment.当然,阿里巴巴合伙人也许不会自由选择不去利用阿里巴巴的公司结构获取给他们的移往机会。此外,就算合伙人的确利用了这样的机会,阿里巴巴未来的商业顺利有可能也不足以填补移往的成本,留下公众投资者不俗的投资回报率。

Before jumping in, however, investors rushing to participate in the Alibaba I.P.O. must recognize the substantial governance risks that they would be taking. Alibaba’s structure does not provide adequate protections to public investors.尽管如此,意图参予阿里巴巴IPO的投资者们,在跳入一跃之前,必需意识到自己不会分担相当可观的公司管理风险。阿里巴巴的结构未给公众投资者获取充份的维护。