Apache to Shareowners: Give Us Your Money and Shut Up

John Chevedden forwarded a report he received from on Apache’s annual meeting.

No one spoke on the vote [ballot] items.  I saw no press.  The meeting length was 1.5 hours and well presented.  There was a power point presentation by all three execs.  Estimated attendance is 400 persons.  I think mostly employees.  Farris spoke the last words of his presentation and immediately shut it down.  Took me by surprise.  Not sure if anyone wanted to speak, it all happened so fast by their design.  No one that I could see voted at the meeting.

Loren Steffy reports much the same for the Houston Chronicle (Apache scalps shareholder discussion at meeting, 5/7/10)

Houston-based Apache, which has shown little patience for its own investors, ended its annual meeting yesterday without taking any questions from shareholders.

Apache has long embraced a 1950s-era approach to corporate governance, treating with disdain the very idea of shareholder input. Earlier this year, Apache hauled one investor into court to prevent him from filing a shareholder proposal. It prevailed in that case on a technicality.

Perhaps Apache’s management – motto: give us your money and shut up – didn’t want to open itself up to angry owners. Local shareholder activist Harold Mathis, who owns Apache shares, said he planned to ask a question about the decision to sue fellow shareholder John Chevedden but he never got the chance.

“They had no Q&A,” Mathis said. “They immediately closed the meeting after the company presentation.” They didn’t even validate investors’ parking.

It is very disheartening to learn of shareowners being so mistreated. When something like that happened to Lewis Gilbert in 1932 it lead to the beginnings of the modern movement for more democratic corporate governance. Gilbert felt he had been “publicly humiliated by one of my own employees.” He quit his job and established a new avocation, “devoting all my time to the cause of the public shareholder.” We should heed his admonition, “Rights are won by exercising them. Rights are lost by default when they are not used.” (further reading at
Apache v. Chevedden: a Non-Starter.)

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