In the past decades the Brazilian economy has undergone major changes such as macroeconomic stability; achievement of investment grade status for the debt of the government and many individual firms; strong economic growth; and development of pension funds, which became major investors in public company shares. Significant changes were also observed in the stock market. Through the early 2000s, Brazil was seen as having relatively weak corporate governance. Examples of expropriation of minority shareholders by controlling shareholders were common.
In 2000, in response to concern about weak protection for minority shareholders (including extensive use of non-voting shares, few outside directors, and low levels of disclosure), the São Paulo Stock Exchange (BM&FBovespa) created three high-governance markets (Novo Mercado, Level I and Level II). This contributed to a surge in initial public offerings, which had been nearly nonexistent until 2004; a leveling off in the number of listed companies, which had been shrinking; and sharply rising trading volume and liquidity. Most new listings were at one of the premium listing levels; some older companies also migrated their listings to a higher level. In spite of these major changes in the economy and the stock market, little is known about how corporate governance standards have been changing. This article, The Evolution of Corporate Governance in Brazil, aims at filling this gap by providing a picture of the evolution of corporate governance practices in Brazil.