While unequal voting structures in the U.S. are commonly associated with technology and media companies, there is no such industry specific tendency in Europe – with its tradition of so-called “loyalty shares” and government ownership. This paper surveying dual class share structures in Europe follows an earlier piece looking at similar structures in the U.S.
More than twice as many companies in France have unequal voting rights than those that don’t have them
The split in Sweden is around 50:50
Greece and Portugal have no companies with unequal voting rights
Loyalty shares as well as other unequal voting arrangements are allowed in Finland, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, France and the U.K.
In addition, while loyalty shares are not allowed, other unequal voting practices are allowed in Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and Spain
As can be seen from the graph below, unequal voting share structures are largely concentrated in Western Europe (France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands) and the Nordic countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland).
Loyalty shares are those that have been held for a longer period, usually two years, but sometimes longer. They bring with them additional voting rights and, in some cases, a higher dividend.