domingo, 19 de agosto de 2007

CASO: DODGE VS. FORD MOTOR CO

Henry Ford, quien controlaba la Ford, quiso bajar los precios de las unidades para favorecer al consumidor y a sus empleados, compartiendo de esta manera las ganancias con el consumidor. Un accionista de la Ford, reclamo a la administración de Ford, la realización de actos que él consideraba ilegítimos. Él sostenía que la Ford creo un plan de incentivo de compra de automóviles del tipo Ford T y permitió a los trabajadores adquirir sus vehículos a un precio que en definitiva estaba siendo subvencionado por el accionista. La demanda afirmaba que la Ford no es una entidad de beneficencia y su fin no es el de quedar bien con los empleados y menos con los usuarios su fin principal es el de crear lucro independientemente de la actividad que realice.
LA CORTE AMERICANA otorgo la razón al accionista que interpuso la “acción derivativa” (una acción en nombre de la sociedad) y a partir de ese fallo se sienta un principio esencial en derecho corporativo y de acciones por el cual lo mas importante es la cantidad de ganancia que genera una sociedad, aspectos como la calidad del producto, del servicio, la tecnología, la cantidad de inventario, la capacidad gerencial se justifican siempre y cuando generen mayor utilidad. Al accionista no le interesa como y cuando se produce, lo que le interesa es “cuanto”. Este ha creado el fenómeno de la atomización, creando sociedades atomizadas que son accionistas pasivos.


Dodge v. Ford Motor Company, 204 Mich. 459, 170 N.W. 668. (Mich. 1919), was a famous case in which the Michigan Supreme Court held that Henry Ford owed a duty to the shareholders of the Ford Motor Company to operate his business for profitable purposes as opposed to charitable purposes.

Facts

In 1916, the Ford Motor Company earned surpluses in excess of $100,000,000.00. The company’s president and majority stockholder, Henry Ford, sought to stop declaring dividends for investors, and instead cut prices below the price for which they could actually sell cars, while at the same time increasing the number of persons employed by his company. Ford said that he wanted to increase the number of people who could afford to buy his cars. He stated:

"My ambition is to employ still more men, to spread the benefits of this industrial system to the greatest possible number, to help them build up their lives and their homes. To do this we are putting the greatest share of our profits back in the business."

Minority shareholders objected, demanding that Ford continue to charge higher prices in order to pay them larger dividends.

Issue

The Court was called upon to decide whether the minority shareholders could prevent Ford from operating the company for the charitable ends that he had declared.

Opinion of the Court

The Court held that a business corporation is organized primarily for the profit of the stockholders. The discretion of the directors is to be exercised in the choice of means to attain that end, and does not extend to the reduction of profits or the nondistribution of profits among stockholders in order to benefit the public, making the profits of the stockholders incidental thereto.

Because this company was in business for profit, Ford could not turn it into a charity. This was compared to a spoliation of the company’s assets. The court therefore upheld the order of the trial court requiring that directors declare an extra dividend of $19 million.

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