Last week I uploaded a revised template for proxy access proposals (see Avoiding Proxy Access Lite: QUALCOMM Proposal) to address some of the problems identified by the Council of Institutional Investors in their August 5th report, Proxy Access: Best Practices. Thanks to the quick response from several readers, I have already made a few improvments. Please use the new language below if you want to keep up with my latest revised template. Of course, I always welcome additional suggestions for improvement from readers either through the comment function below or by email. I hope to see many of you at the ICGN/CII conference in Boston today.
Shareholder Proxy Access
RESOLVED: Shareholders of X (the “Company”) ask the board of directors (the “Board”) to adopt, and present for shareholder approval, a “proxy access” bylaw as follows:
Require the Company to include in proxy materials prepared for a shareholder meeting at which directors are to be elected the name, Disclosure and Statement (as defined herein) of any person nominated for election to the board by a shareholder or an unrestricted number of shareholders forming a group (the “Nominator”) that meets the criteria established below.
Allow shareholders to vote on such nominee on the Company’s proxy card.
The number of shareholder-nominated candidates appearing in proxy materials should not exceed one quarter of the directors then serving or two, whichever is greater. This bylaw should supplement existing rights under Company bylaws, providing that a Nominator must:
- have beneficially owned 3% or more of the Company’s outstanding common stock, including recallable loaned stock, continuously for at least three years before submitting the nomination;
- give the Company, within the time period identified in its bylaws, written notice of the information required by the bylaws and any Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules about (i) the nominee, including consent to being named in proxy materials and to serving as director if elected; and (ii) the Nominator, including proof it owns the required shares (the “Disclosure”); and
- certify that (i) it will assume liability stemming from any legal or regulatory violation arising out of the Nominator’s communications with the Company shareholders, including the Disclosure and Statement; (ii) it will comply with all applicable laws and regulations if it uses soliciting material other than the Company’s proxy materials; and (iii) to the best of its knowledge, the required shares were acquired in the ordinary course of business, not to change or influence control at the Company.
The Nominator may submit with the Disclosure a statement not exceeding 500 words in support of the nominee (the “Statement”). The Board should adopt procedures for promptly resolving disputes over whether notice of a nomination was timely, whether the Disclosure and Statement satisfy the bylaw and applicable federal regulations, and the priority given to multiple nominations exceeding the one-quarter limit. No additional restrictions that do not apply to other board nominees should be placed on these nominations or re-nominations.
Supporting Statement: Long-term shareholders should have a meaningful voice in nominating directors. The SEC’s universal proxy access Rule 14a-11 (https://www.sec.gov/rules/final/2010/33-9136.pdf) was vacated, in part due to inadequate cost-benefit analysis. Proxy Access in the United States (http://www.cfapubs.org/doi/pdf/10.2469/ccb.v2014.n9.1), a cost-benefit analysis by CFA Institute, found proxy access would “benefit both the markets and corporate boardrooms, with little cost or disruption,” raising US market capitalization by up to $140.3 billion. Public Versus Private Provision of Governance (http://ssrn.com/abstract=2635695) found a 0.5 percent average increase in shareholder value for proxy access targeted firms.
END of Revised Template.