Are you thinking about investing as a minority shareholder in a company? Perhaps you are thinking about taking on outside investors for your current company? What are your minority shareholder rights as an investor? What should you be concerned about as a majority shareholder?
Understandably, minority shareholders often are concerned that their rights and interests will be trampled by those of the majority shareholders. It seems that corporations appear to have a greater incentive to cater to the needs of their more substantial investors. However, in California, minority shareholders possess certain crucial rights that cannot be compromised by corporate bylaws or majority minuts of proceedings.actions. One of the most valuable rights for shareholders is the right to access information about the corporation. In particular, shareholders of California corporations have rights to inspect two different sets of records: (I) record of shareholders; and (II) accounting books, records, and
Minority shareholders have the right to inspect a corporation’s record of shareholders. Those who hold either: (a) 5% of the shares; or (b) 1% of the shares and have filed a federal Schedule 14B relating to the election of directors, have an absolute right, on 5 business days’ notice, to both: (1) to inspect and copy the record of shareholders; and (2) to obtain a current list of the names, addressses and share holdings of the voting shareholders (Corp. C. 1600(a)(b)). Furthermore, any shareholder who does not qualify under either (a) or (b) above, with a written demand, has a right to access a corporation’s record of shareholders. BUT if and only if the acquisition of such records is directed towards an end deemed reasonably related to the holder’s interest (Corp. C. 1600 (c)).
Minority shareholders also have the valuable right to inspect accounting books, records, and minutes of proceedings. Inspection of said information is provided if and only if the acquisition of such information is directed towards an end deemed reasonably related to the holder’s interest (Corp. C. 1601 (a)).
These are important rights for all shareholders to keep in mind. Indeed, these rights may not be limited by either the bylaws or articles. If a lawful demand for inspection is refused without justification, the superior court can intervene and compel the corporation to forfeit the requested information. In some cases, the courts have exercised their power to award complaining shareholders with reasonable expenses, including attorneys’ fees. (Corp. C. 1600 (b)).
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