Today is your last chance to vote for real proxy access at Whole Foods Market Inc. (WFM, $WFM), unless you plan to attend the meeting in San Francisco tomorrow. The annual shareholder’s meeting will be held at the Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason Street, San Francisco, California 94108 and will begin at 8 a.m. See Pension funds line up in favor of proxy-access bylaw change at Whole Foods.
If you do attend, please stop me and say hello. I would love to get your feedback on how shareholders can improve accountability through improved corporate governance. Whole Foods used to be one of the largest holdings in my portfolio. Back in October 2013 shares sold for about $65; today $35 seems to be the threshold to beat.
I used to head California’s cooperative development program, so had a lot of experience with struggling grocers and their co-op wholesale. I invested in Whole Foods Market because their model was something of a hybrid, with its emphasis on teams, employee ownership and organic foods. Let’s discuss how Whole Foods can get its groove back.
Real Proxy Access at Whole Foods
Here’s an advance copy of my brief speech tomorrow in support of real proxy access at Whole Foods Market.
Proxy Access is the most fundamental way shareholders can hold our board accountable without engaging in an expensive solicitation process or contest for control.
In its opposition statement, Whole Foods claims they already have proxy access but that is like saying BP stands for ‘beyond petroleum.’
Proxy access bylaws at Whole Foods impose a limit of 20 on the number of investors that can form a nominating group.
However, the Council of Institutional Investors, whose members hold invested assets of over $3 trillion says even if the 20 largest public pension funds joined together, they wouldn’t hold the required 3% of stock for 3 years at most companies.
There are two major proxy advisors used by institutional investors in America. Both ISS and Glass Lewis have endorsed the proposal before you to make the Whole Foods proxy access bylaws workable.
In addition, every fund that has announced their vote in advance of our meeting has come out in support of this proposal for real proxy access at Whole Foods. These funds include:
- Canada Pension Plan Investment Board,
- California State Teachers’ Retirement System,
- Florida State Board of Administration,
- Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan,
- Texas Teacher Retirement System,
- Calvert Social Investment Funds,
- Domini Social Equity Funds,
- Trillium Asset Management, and
- Christian Brothers Investment Services
Please vote in support of Item #5 on your proxy to provide real proxy access at Whole Foods for long-term shareholders.