Fortune

WHEN SHAREHOLDERS ARE SPECTATORS

At companies controlled by their founders, it’s hard for stockholders to pressure management to do the right thing. Here’s how to tell which corporate dictatorships can be benevolent for investors.
The Murdoch family—whose members include Elisabeth, Lachlan, patriarch Rupert, and James—controls voting power at 21st Century Fox.

OVER THE PAST THREE years the Sumner Redstone saga shaved more than 55% off the value of Viacom’s stock. As company-crippling feuds erupted over the health, mental capacity, family, and mistresses of Redstone, now 93, shareholders could either sell low or brace for the next scene of the soap opera to unfold. But with Redstone-owned National Amusements controlling 80% of the voting shares of the media conglomerate, investors had virtually no leverage to get the company to clean up its act.

Viacom’s plummet illustrates what can

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