In a year of hard-fought corporate governance battles, some of 2010’s biggest victories were won by a soft-spoken activist who shares his home office with Norman the cat.
The growth of online communications has put new power in the hands of retail investors, who are reshaping the relationship between companies and their shareholders.
One is Glyn Holton, a financial risk consultant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In the past year Holton became the driving force in convincing technology companies Symantec Corp (SYMC.O) and Intel Corp (INTC.O) to abandon online-only annual meetings and instead to stage hybrid events that shareholders can attend in person…
Recently, Holton’s main target was a plan by Goldman Sachs Group (GS.N) to sell pre-IPO shares of Facebook to wealthy investors ahead of an anticipated initial public offering. Officially, companies are supposed to file public disclosures if they have more than 500 shareholders. Plans like Goldman’s can provide a way around that requirement. In a newsletter he emailed in early January, Holton wrote that the SEC should block such arrangements as a violation of disclosure rules.
On Jan. 17, Goldman said it would limit its private placement of Facebook shares to investors outside the United States, citing “intense media coverage.” …
NEWSMAKER-Activist Holton a force in governance battles | Reuters, 2/8/2011. A very nice profile of Glyn Holton by Ross Kerber.
If the Yale Governance Forum gave “rising star” awards to those over 40, Holton would certainly be named. Few others, if any, are working so adroitly to ensure the rights of small shareowners. Check out the United States Proxy Exchange (USPX), a non-profit organization dedicated to facilitating shareowner rights and confronting Wall Street abuse, led by Holton. “Members are individual investors like you.” Funding comes entirely from membership dues, $3.95 a month. I encourage readers to sign up; I did.