WSJ, How Much New Investor Cash Did BlackRock Attract in 2017? $1 Billion a Day, Jan. 13–14, 2018

The world’s largest asset manager reached a new milestone during 2017: the equivalent of $1 billion of new client cash every day.

The annual net inflow of $367.3 billion helped BlackRock Inc. BLK 3.27% pass $6 trillion in assets for the first time, up more than $1 trillion from the end of 2016. The record haul during 2017 amounted to more than $698,000 a minute.

The pace of new investor cash into BlackRock puts it in the same league as rival Vanguard Group, which attracted a net $369.3 billion in new money last year. The two managers now oversee a combined $11.2 trillion, higher than the gross domestic product of China in 2016.

WSJ, T. Boone Pickens Calls It Quits on Energy Trading

T. Boone Pickens, a famous oilman and investment manager, said he is closing the energy-focused hedge fund he has run for the last two decades as his health declines.

See also David A. Vise, Delaware Court Changes Rules of Takeover Game, Wash. Post, June 16, 1985

日本経済新聞「株主総会、実のある対話へ法改正 株主提案に上限案」(2018年1月15日)

もう一つの柱である取締役会改革では、社外取締役の設置の義務付けが焦点だ。主に上場会社を対象に義務付ける案と、現行のまま義務付けない案を併記する。義務付けには企業経営の透明性向上に期待する声がある。一方、東京証券取引所の上場企業の9割超が社外取締役を設けており、あえて義務付ける必要はないとの見方もある。

WSJ, Three, Four, Five? How Many Board Seats Are Too Many?

Directors at public companies spend an average of 248 hours a year for each board served, up from nearly 191 hours in 2005, according to surveys by the National Association of Corporate Directors. The tallies cover tasks such as attending meetings, travel and chats with management. “It’s more of a job now,” observed Peter Gleason, the association’s president.

The Economist, Bitcoin is no longer the only game in crypto-currency town (Jan. 13, 2018)

First on the list, after bitcoin, was Ethereum, whose coin, called ether, reached a market capitalisation of $137bn. Ethereum’s claim to fame is that it is also a platform for “smart contracts”-business rules encapsulated in software. Most ICO tokens, for instance, are issued by such contracts. Its success has attracted crypto-copycats: Cardano ($20bn) and NEO ($8bn), a Chinese version.

Ripple, too, is defying gravity. It is all the rage in crypto-crazy South Korea, which this week roiled crypto-markets with plans to ban trading on exchanges. Ripple sells software to move money between countries; more than 100 banks have signed up to its technology, based on a coin called XRP. Its market capitalisation jumped by more than 40,000% in 2017, reaching nearly $149bn on January 4th, before falling back to $78bn. That still makes Chris Larsen, a Ripple co-founder, one of the world’s richest people, at least on digital paper.

University of Rochester President Resigns Amid Fallout of Harassment Claims Against Professor

Joel Seligman will resign as president of the University of Rochester as the school continues to grapple with fallout from complaints that the school bungled its response to allegations of sexual harassment by a professor.

Outsourcing the Board

In this groundbreaking work, Stephen Bainbridge and Todd Henderson change the conversation about corporate governance by examining the origins, roles, and performance of boards with a simple question in mind: why does the law require governance to be delivered through individual board members? While tracing the development of boards from quasi-political bodies through the current “monitoring” role, the authors find the reasons for this requirement to be wanting. Instead, they propose that corporations be permitted to hire other business associations—known as “Board Service Providers” or BSPs—to provide governance services. Just as corporations hire law firms, accounting firms, and consulting firms, so too should they be permitted to hire governance firms, a small change that will dramatically increase board accountability and enable governance to be delivered more efficiently. Outsourcing the Board should be read by academics, policymakers, and those within the corporations that will benefit from this change.

Can Delaware Be Dethroned?

Delaware is the state of incorporation for almost two-thirds of the Fortune 500 companies, as well as more than half of all companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, and other major stock exchanges. This gives Delaware a seemingly unchallengeable position as the dominant producer of US corporate law. In recent years, however, some observers have suggested that Delaware’s competitive position is eroding. Other states have long tried to chip away at Delaware’s position, and recent Delaware legal developments may have strengthened the case for incorporating outside Delaware. More important, however, the federal government increasingly is preempting corporate governance law. The contributors to this volume are leading academics and practitioners with decades of experience in Delaware corporate law. They bring together a variety of perspectives that collectively provide the reader with a broad understanding of how Delaware achieved its dominant position and the threats it faces.

What to Look for in ETFs in 2018

During the year, 275 new products were launched and 136 products were delisted, according to research firm XTF. The announced acquisition by Invesco Ltd.’s Invesco PowerShares of Guggenheim Investments’ ETF business has brought the slow but steady consolidation toward the top of the ETF pyramid. The fourth-largest issuer at $177 billion in assets, when combined, will still trail State Street Corp.’s State Street Global Advisors ($567 billion), Vanguard Group ($851 billion) and BlackRock Inc. ($1.35 trillion). Additionally, three issuers-Global X, Goldman Sachs and Exchange-Traded Concepts-experienced more than 100% asset growth in 2017, according to Toroso Asset Management.

… 5. Active management is redefined. Even supporters of actively managed stock funds argue that active vs. passive/indexing can be boiled down to high cost vs. low cost. (And, yes, there is high-cost passive in some areas of the market.) Now, Vanguard is gearing up to blow a hole in the active/passive distinction by introducing low-cost, actively managed ETFs in the first quarter—index funds with that will home in on areas of the market recently ruled by the smart-beta crowd—namely momentum, value and minimum volatility, among others.