Under the new Maryland law, benefit corporations must spell out their values in their charters, report annually on activities that benefit the public, and submit to third-party auditing of their societal impact. Becoming a benefit corporation, or shedding that status, would require approval of two-thirds of shareholders.Apparently, the law also provides the company with greater protection from shareholder lawsuits. California, New York, and Vermont are considering similar laws.
It will be interesting to follow this phenomenon. Will investors be more or less willing to provide funds to these corporations (which seem to explicitly reject the idea of maximizing shareholder value for the broader goal of maximizing stakeholder value)?
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