Symantec Reverses Course: Won't hold a Virtual-Only Meeting Next Year

As reported earlier (See Protesting Symantec’s All-Virtual Annual Meeting, 22 Sep, 2010) Symantec Corporation set the pathetic precedent of being the first Fortune 500 company to hold a virtual-only annual meeting without shareowner-approved safeguards to protect participant rights. That happened September 20, 2010. But two weeks later, Symantec has backed down. Responding to a letter writing campaign organized by the United States Proxy Exchange (USPX), which received national media attention, Symantec announced they will not hold a virtual-only annual meeting in 2011. Reuters broke the story.

This wonderful news came on the heals of shareowners’ success convincing Intel to scrap plans to hold a virtual-only meeting in 2010. Intel held a hybrid meeting instead.

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One Response to Symantec Reverses Course: Won't hold a Virtual-Only Meeting Next Year

  1. James McRitchie October 6, 2010 at 11:42 am #

    Thanks to Glyn Holton of USPX for coordinating the effort to stop virtual-only meetings and to those who wrote letters on behalf of Boston Common Asset Management, CalPERS, CalSTRS, Clean Yield Asset Management, Co-operative Asset Management, Council of Institutional Investors, First Affirmative Financial Network, Harrington Investments, Newground Social Investment, Responsible Wealth and Trillium Asset Management.

    I was also delighted to see letters from individual investors. We need to coordinate better with institutional investors and this time we did. Thanks to John Chevedden, Vincent Cirulli, Ben Collins, Brett Davidson, Adam Foulke, Mark Friendlich, Daniel Goldsmith, Peter Hasegawa, Steve Nieman, Ed Pontes, William Rosenfeld, Kenneth Steiner, Marie Szaniszlo, Steven Towns, and Richard Treumann.

    Newground was poised to file a shareholder resolution to ensure against another virtual-only meeting next year when the company phoned to let them know of their reversal. Their resolution was based on one written by Tim Smith of Walden for Intel. Intel announced a virtual-only annual meeting but reversed their position after protests from Holton of USPX, Tim Smith and others.

    I hope companies have now gotten the message that virtual-only meetings are unacceptable. I look forward to working with Holton and others through USPX to develop and advance best practices. I think we can probably build off the work of Gary Lutin’s group and quickly arrive at practical guidelines that will be revised regularly as we struggle to have a more deliberative process at annual meetings.

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