Sudip Datta: Southeast Michigan sees slide in public companies

The ranks of Southeast Michigan publicly traded companies have been shrinking for two decades. Twenty years ago, Southeast Michigan was home to 93 companies with publicly traded stock. That's down to just 42 today. That 54 percent slide is slightly steeper than the 50 percent shrink that Wall Street as a whole has gone through since 1996. The shift has many causes: companies going out of business or leaving town, a decades-long binge in mergers and acquisitions and an IPO market that has largely passed the state by. On the regulatory side, Congress enacted the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 to increase investor protections after the Enron scandal in 2001. But the act, which created public accounting oversight, enhanced disclosures and other accountability measures, has made it more expensive and difficult for companies to go public. "With more regulations, management sovereignty, more sources of funds and activist investors threatening boards, there's no desire to rush to go public," said Sudip Datta, finance professor and chair of the finance department at Wayne State University. "But this isn't necessarily good for the economy. All of these factors have created an environment where only a handful of rich folks can participate."

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