SOX and Protecting the NYSE from Itself

by J. Robert Brown, for The Race to the Bottom, December 29, 2009.

We haven’t heard any good SOX bashing lately, particulary in an era when the need for more rather than less regulation of corporate governance is the order of the day.  Nonetheless, we were treated to a dose of criticism by Duncan Niederauer, the CEO of the NYSE.  After discussing the delisting of the insurance giant, Allianz, and conceding that the company went home because of deeper, more liquid markets, he turned his sights on SOX.

  • The bad news, according to Mr. Niederauer, is that while Allianz had some legitimate reasons to delist, the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley law may very well have been the nail in the coffin. The act—which increased the reporting burden on companies—is “one of the things that has made us less competitive,” and “hurt the U.S. capital markets competitiveness.”
  • How so? He says some companies “use it as a differentiator because they don’t have a strong reputation and don’t come from markets with solid regulatory oversight.” But “I’m afraid in the case of companies like Allianz, it’s a drag,” because complying with Sarbanes-Oxley ends up costing companies a lot of money. It is worth noting, he adds, that though five Russian companies are listed in New York, not one has been added since 2004…(continue reading)

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