Proprietà e controllo nelle imprese di servizi pubblici locali. Il caso italiano

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Through the lens of agency theory, the paper examines governance mechanisms of Local Public Utilities (LPUs) in order to identify conflicts of interest that may arise among the majority and the minority shareholders (Agency Problem II). To this aim the paper summarizes the main results of the multiple case study analysis on 10 Italian listed LPUs. An Agency Problem II exists between majority and minority shareholders. Although governance mechanisms (e.g., the board of directors) have different roles and functions and may prevent and mitigate such conflicts, our findings suggest that there are several problematic issues. First, the effects of ownership structure on board composition and functioning. Second, higher numbers of independent directors do not necessarily mean "actual" board independence. The paper contributes to the debate on conflicts of interests and governance mechanisms in local public utilities suggesting possible developments of agency theory and discussing implications for further research.