EU Commissioner Michel Barnier will address 2013 Corporate Governance Conference ‘Actions for Better Business’ in Dublin in May

As part of Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first half of 2013, the 12th European Corporate Governance and Company Law Conference, ‘Actions for Better Business’, will take place on Thursday and Friday, 16 and 17 May 2013, at the Convention Centre, Dublin. The conference is organised by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and is sponsored by Arthur Cox, PwC and the Irish Stock Exchange.

The conference will be addressed by Michel Barnier, European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, and Peter Sutherland, former European Commissioner, and Director General of the World Trade Organisation. The conference chairperson on day one will be Pat Cox, former President of the European Parliament, and day two will be chaired by Danny McCoy, Director General of the Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation (IBEC).

The conference will discuss and debate the European Commission’s plans to modernise corporate governance and company law as set out in the recently published Action Plan: ‘European company law and corporate governance – a modern legal framework for more engaged shareholder and sustainable companies’which was adopted by the Commissionon 12 December last. Having an overall objective of making companies more competitive and sustainable, the Action Plan has three key elements- increasing transparency between companies and shareholders, initiatives aimed at encouraging long-term shareholder engagement, and company law initiatives to encourage growth and competitiveness. It is anticipated that the Action Plan will shape Commissioner Barnier’s work in corporate governance and company law during the second half of his mandate. The event will also highlight corporate governance best practices and will discuss the key role corporate governance plays for sustainable business and future economic stability and investment.

Speaking at the conference launch, Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, said:

“I am very happy to announce that the Irish Presidency is hosting this prestigious conference, which will place Ireland at the centre of the discussion on the most important corporate governance issues on the international stage. The quality of the speakers guarantees that this will be a valuable conference for policy makers, investors, practitioners and academics, and I am very encouraged by the eager interest shown for the event not just within Ireland, but also at European and international level. Corporate governance is vital to ensuring the effective management of companies in the best interests of the wide range of stakeholders. In Ireland, through the Action Plan for Jobs, we have taken major steps in this direction with in particular the recent publication of the landmark Companies Bill. Achieving best practice at European level will make a major contribution to competitiveness and ultimately facilitate growth and job-creation”.

At the event, Professor Blanaid Clarke, Chair in Corporate Law at Trinity College Dublin and Deirdre Ahern, Professor at Trinity College Dublin specialising in Company Law, Corporate Governance and Commercial Law will reveal the results of a specially commissioned piece of research to examine whether a ‘comply or explain’ approach can inspire an effective commitment to board diversity.

Ronan Murphy, Senior Partner, PwC said: “Public trust is key to developing responsible and sustainable businesses that can contribute to growth in the European economies. PwC’s 2012 CEO Pulse Survey highlighted an increased focus on effective corporate governance and the importance of the role of the board of directors to ensure that this public trust is achieved. This conference, which we are delighted to sponsor, will provide an excellent forum to discuss and debate the way forward for corporate governance as organisations continue to adapt their business models in this changing and challenging business environment”.

In addition, the conference will host a special session on short-termism led by the prestigious European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) with speakers Professor Patrick Bolton of Columbia Business School, and Professor Alex Edmans, of Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania addressing the audience.

Other speakers and participants will include:

  • Amra Balic, Head of Corporate Governance and Responsible Investment (EMEA), BlackRock
  • Ugo Bassi, Director for Capital and Companies, DG Internal Market, European Commission
  • Professor Niamh Brennan, Michael MacCormac Professor of Management, UCD
  • Daryl Byrne, Head of Regulation, Irish Stock Exchange
  • Peter Cassells, Director, Edward N Kennedy Institute for Conflict Intervention, NUI Maynooth, and former General Secretary, Irish Congress of Trades Unions
  • Dr Thomas B Courtney, Partner, Head of Company Compliance and Governance, Arthur Cox
  • Danuta Gray, former CEO, Telefonica 02 in Ireland and Executive Director
  • Chris Hodge, Director of Corporate Governance, UK Financial Reporting Council
  • Myles Lee, Group Chief Executive, CRH plc
  • Paul Haran, Chairman, UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business, and Director, Glanbia plc
  • Professor Patrick Bolton, Barbara and David Zalaznick Professor of Business, Columbia Business School
  • Professor Alex Edmans, Assistant Professor of Finance, The Wharton School. University of Pennsylvania.

Commenting at the conference launch, Brian O’Gorman, Managing Partner, Arthur Cox said: “The debate on, and development towards, better corporate governance is vital to create an effective and viable platform for corporate activity in Ireland and Europe. We are delighted to be involved in what promises to be a very important and insightful conference on this key topic.”

Deirdre Somers, Chief Executive, the Irish Stock Exchange, added: “Corporate failures in the last decade illustrate graphically the critical role corporate governance can play in market stability and long term investment return. To rebuild investor confidence in equity as an asset class, and to deliver sustainable yields to investors, to manage risk objectively, and communicate adequately with the market, governance is key, and it is important that Europe leads the debate. The ISE is delighted to be a joint-sponsor of this event.”