PhD Student Directory
Simon Witney

Email: S.R.Witney@lse.ac.uk

Thesis Title: 'Corporate governance in private equity-owned companies'

Supervisors: Dr Carsten Gerner-Beuerle and Professor David Kershaw

Research Interests: Company law, corporate governance, private equity and venture capital

My research

My doctoral research looks at the governance structures which exist in an under-researched and economically powerful sub-set of UK companies: those which are majority owned by private equity fund managers.

The project is both doctrinal and empirical, and analyses the allocation of power and decision-making structures in a unique sample of companies using the theoretical frameworks which are usually adopted by scholars to describe and evaluate such mechanisms. It sets those contractually determined processes in the context of a set of mandatory and default legal rules and seeks to evaluate whether those rules enable or constrain contested solutions which are, at least for the actors immediately involved, optimal.

I argue that the UK legal environment, characterised by a number of apparently mandatory rules, creates unnecessary additional costs for private equity-backed companies, without generating any commensurate benefits for society. I further contend that existing theories of corporate governance only partially explain the rules and structures which are observed in practice and I suggest alternative theoretical approaches which have more explanatory power.

I expect my research to inform Europe’s critical corporate governance debate. It will be of interest to anyone who wants to better understand which forms of governance – and which company law frameworks – drive companies to create long term sustainable value. That is a subject of acute interest to practitioners, academics, policy-makers, and to society as a whole.

My research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).


My background

I am a PhD student in the Law Department at LSE, supervised by Professor David Kershaw and Dr Carsten Gerner-Beuerle.

Before joining LSE’s PhD programme I was a partner practising private equity law at King & Wood Mallesons (formerly SJ Berwin). My first degree was in Law at Oxford University, and I have also attained an MPhil in Law from Leicester University and an MBA from INSEAD.

 

Publications

'Duties Owed by Shadow Directors: Closing in on the Puppet Masters?' Journal of Business Law (2016) 311

'Corporate opportunities law and the non-executive director' Journal of Corporate Law Studies (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14735970.2015.1117349

'What can legal academics add to the debate about private equity?', LSE Law Review, 2016, http://www.lselawreview.com/#!private-equity-simon-witney/uht8d

 

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