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Voting Trust Agreements


A Voting Trust Agreement is a contract among shareholders where they transfer their voting rights to a trustee. This is typically done to consolidate voting power, often for the purpose of controlling a company. It allows shareholders to collectively make decisions without individual voting.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Voting Trust Agreements” is: Voting- /ˈvoʊtɪŋ/Trust- /trʌst/Agreements – /əˈgriːmənts/

Key Takeaways

  1. Control and Decision-Making: Voting Trust Agreements are a legal entity that centralizes voting control of a corporation. They allow shareholders to pass on their voting rights to a trustee, who then makes decisions on behalf of the shareholders. This can help streamline decision-making and prevent disputes in corporations with many shareholders.
  2. Agreed Duration: Voting Trust Agreements are not permanent. They have a specific time frame, as stipulated within the agreement. The trustee holds the voting rights for this specified period, after which the rights revert back to the shareholders unless the agreement is renewed.
  3. Protection of Minority Shareholders: Voting Trust Agreements can offer protection to minority shareholders from decisions by majority shareholders that might not be in their interests. By uniting their shares under a single trustee, minority shareholders can enhance their influence on the company and ensure their interests are fairly represented.


Voting Trust Agreements are vital in the business/finance realm as they serve to consolidate voting power in corporations. Under a voting trust agreement, shareholders transfer their voting rights to a trustee for a specified period, providing a secure and stable management environment. This can help prevent hostile takeovers and gives smaller shareholders a unified voice, making it equally significant from both a corporate management and a shareholder perspective. Furthermore, by preserving the agreement for a particular period, it allows long-term planning and decision-making for the company. Thus, voting trust agreements bring stability and secure the shareholders’ rights, playing a critical role in corporate governance.


A Voting Trust Agreement serves a critical role in the business and financial world by ensuring an organization’s stability and maintaining majority control. This agreement is typically initiated by larger shareholders who seek to consolidate their voting rights by transferring their shares to a voting trustee. By doing so, they reasonably safeguard the company from sudden detrimental changes that may be instigated by minority shareholders. It provides these large shareholders a means to have more central control and thus allows for a more predictable management of the company.Secondly, Voting Trust Agreements are an instrument often utilized in scenarios of corporate succession. For instance, if a company’s main shareholder-owner were to pass away, a properly structured voting trust would ensure their shares’ voting power goes to a trusted individual, thereby ensuring a smoother transition of leadership. In summary, these agreements are used to protect the integrity of the business, maintain consistent leadership, support organizations’ stability, and provide a means for passing on corporate leadership.


1. CBS Corporation: One of the best-known examples of a voting trust agreement is the CBS Corporation. Sumner Redstone, the company’s majority shareholder, transferred his voting rights to a trust that included his daughter, Shari Redstone, which allowed them to control the company even though their ownership stake does not represent a majority of the shares.2. Ford Motor Company: The Ford family maintains control of their namesake company through a dual-class share structure, but they also have a voting trust agreement in place. William Clay Ford Jr., the great-grandson of Henry Ford, serves as the family’s voting trustee. This agreement allows the family to maintain control over the company, despite owning a smaller fraction of total equity.3. The Chicago Cubs: The Ricketts family purchased a majority stake in the Chicago Cubs in 2009 and placed it in a voting trust. This voting trust agreement includes all family members so that they can collectively make decisions about the team’s management and direction.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Voting Trust Agreement?

A Voting Trust Agreement is a legal agreement where stockholders transfer their shares and voting rights to a trustee for a predetermined period of time. This agreement is mainly used in corporations to resolve issues of managerial succession, control, and direction.

How does a Voting Trust Agreement work?

Shareholders transfer their voting rights to a trustee who votes on their behalf. The trust agreement outlines the policies and guidelines for voting.

Why would shareholders choose to enter into a Voting Trust Agreement?

Shareholders might choose to enter into a Voting Trust Agreement to consolidate voting power, protect the company from hostile takeovers, or to resolve disputes among shareholders.

Who can serve as a trustee in a Voting Trust Agreement?

Typically, a trustee can be any competent individual, another corporation, or an entity such as a bank or trust company that is agreed upon by the shareholders involved.

Does the shareholder lose all rights once a Voting Trust Agreement is in effect?

No. While the shareholder loses voting rights, they might still be entitled to other shareholder rights such as receiving dividends.

Can a Voting Trust Agreement be terminated?

Yes, it can be terminated either upon the expiration of the agreement’s time period or under conditions specified in the agreement. Depending upon the terms outlined, they might also be renewable.

Does the trustee have a fiduciary responsibility?

Yes, the trustee is expected to manage the shares in the best interest of the shareholders.

Is a Voting Trust Agreement a private document?

No, it is typically filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, thus making it a matter of public record.

Do all shareholders in a company need to be part of the Voting Trust Agreement?

No, only those shareholders who agree to transfer their voting rights to the trustee need to be included in the voting trust.

Are Voting Trust Agreements common in all industries?

Voting Trust Agreements are more common in certain industries such as real estate, finance, and others where consolidation of voting power might be beneficial. However, they can be utilized in any industry depending upon the specific shareholder and company needs.

Related Finance Terms

  • Trustee: The person who holds the voting rights in a voting trust agreement.
  • Voting Rights: The right of shareholders to vote on matters of corporate policy, including decisions on the makeup of the board of directors.
  • Beneficiaries: The original shareholders who transferred their voting rights to the trustee.
  • Trust Agreement: The document that outlines the specifics, terms, and provisions of the voting trust, such as the duration of the trust and the specific powers granted to the trustee.
  • Shareholder Meetings: Regularly scheduled meetings where corporate policy decisions are finalized. These events are influenced by those holding voting rights.

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