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Delivering Superior Shareholder Value
Business Rationale of Value-Based Management
The creation and delivery of shareholder value has become a business mantra espoused by almost every-self respecting CEO. In their annual reports and published results few of them fail to mention their focus on «delivering shareholder value». However, many organizations fail to translate the aim into reality. Some manage to develop a strategy for creating value. Few actually deliver.
In the increasingly e-connected economy, investors move their money quickly around the world in the quest for the optimum shareholder returns. As a result, today’s business leaders must be able to understand how to create, measure, manage and deliver shareholder value. Messages about value in annual reports are not enough on their own.
Finance experts argue that companies need to earn a minimum level of return on all the capital they employ within their organizations. This minimum level of return required by the providers of capital is known as the «cost of capital». This means that after paying the providers of debt capital, there must still be enough left in order to compensate the equity shareholders for the risks they take.
The returns to shareholders can take the form of dividends and growth in the value of their shares. In the long run, unless companies are able to deliver returns that exceed the cost of capital, the shareholders will grow dissatisfied, disposing of their investments and forcing down the share price.
Falling share prices erode the value of equity investments and lead to disgruntled investors. Disgruntled investors, if upset for long enough, may seek to replace existing managers with those who can produce results of the size needed to maintain and increase share price. There is strong evidence of increasing shareholder activities of this sort. Understandably, companies, and their executive management teams, seek tools to help them measure and deliver value to shareholders.
Value-based management is such a management technique. It is designed to help companies create superior shareholder value through aligning the focus of management decision-making with the interests of shareholders. Major companies like Barclays Bank and Sainsbury have started to focus on VBM to help them manage and, indeed, transform their business. Thus, Lloyds Bank first came to adopt a VBM approach in the mid-1980s. As a result, its shares showed remarkably impressive performance in relation to its peers, such as Barclays Bank, and the Datastream Banks Index over a 15-year period. Given the relative «underperformance» of Barclays over time, it is no wonder that Barclays announced the introduction of VBM in 2000 with the express aim of helping it to become a top-tier performer.
Shareholder value became a business mantra in the 1990s and it is likely to become more widely espoused in the new millennium. Why? The focus on value creation gives purpose for energizing high performance in every aspect of the business.
The old saying «what gets measured gets done» is certainly true in the world of shareholder value. When businesses manage for shareholder value they tend to adopt a common language of value-based metrics. These in turn can be linked to other financial and non-financial measures and targets which help to drive success and, importantly, deliver superior returns for investors when embedded successfully in the business.