Archive | January, 2018

Marrone Bio’s Problematic Behavior

I will not bother taking Marrone Bio Innovations (MBII) to court. The company is young and inexperienced in dealing with SEC rules and shareholder advocates, such as myself. However, I cannot give them a complete pass. Below is a draft of my remarks to be delivered to those attending the January 31 Annual Meeting. Today is the last day to vote online. Please see Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc: Proxy Vote for my recommendations. Continue Reading →

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Real Impact Tracker Goes Live

Real Impact Tracker Involves Everyday Investors in Creating Better Corporate Governance

  • Everyday investors need to play a greater role in corporate governance.
    • It’s dominated by institutions, where the least common denominator is profits
    • Everyday investors should hold companies and funds accountable to their values
  • Everyday investors can play a greater role in corporate governance
    • The Real Impact Certified Community helps them find which fund managers hold companies accountable to their values.
    • The Real Impact Button gives individual investors access, previously limited to institutions, to engage, as shareowners, with the management of their funds and companies.
  • Imagine what would happen if companies really took all the considerations of their shareowners into account.

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Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc.: Proxy Vote

Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. provides bio-based pest management and plant health products primarily for agricultural and water markets in the United States and internationally. Without changes, Marrone Bio is likely to continue to lag the Nasdaq, as it has done for the last one, two and five year time periods. While the Nasdaq has gone up over 100% in the last five years, Marrone Bio has gone down over 90%. Proxy access could make our board more directly accountable to shareholders.

The annual meeting that was supposed to be held in 2017 is set for January 31, 2018 in Davis, California. There is very little data available though my usual sources because Marrone Bio is such a small company. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 67% of the time. View Proxy Statement via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →

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Lead Director – Non-Executive Chair: Evolving

Today’s lead director and non-executive chair face a seemingly never-ending set of risks, governance decisions and strategic initiatives as a result of investors’ growing emphasis on board transparency, accountability, and independence. This insightful panel focused on the evolving roles of board leaders, specifically, the independent chair and lead director. Drive higher-performing boards through improved processes, strengthened director evaluation, recruitment efforts, and more effective shareholder engagement.

This was yet another great event sponsored by SVDX and Stanford’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance. I am so glad I only live 120 miles away, so can easily participate in these events. These are my notes, with no guarantee of accuracy. This one was more packed than usual with lots of on-point participation from the audience. Like a good lead director, Ms. Gomez-Russum did an excellent job moderating. Her job was made a little easier, since none of the panelists seemed compelled to dominate. Each had interesting insights.
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$COST (Costco): Proxy Vote Recommendations

$COST, Costco Wholesale Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, operates membership warehouses. It offers branded and private-label products in a range of merchandise categories. $COST has supermajority vote requirements (66.67%) to amend certain charter provisions, a classified board with staggered terms, and no written consent unless unanimous by all shareholders. In short, reasonable shareholder rights are missing. By way of comparison, Amazon.com ($AMZN) has no supermajority vote requirement, a declassified board elected annually and written consent by majority.

The annual meeting is coming up on January 30, 2018. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 43% of the time. View Proxy Statement via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →

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Citi to Address Gender Pay Gap

Citi reached an historic agreement to disclose wage data and adjust employee salaries in a company-wide effort to achieve gender pay equity. Arjuna Capital agreed to withdraw its gender pay shareholder resolution after the agreement.

Citigroup (Citi) and Arjuna Capital disclosed that Citi is taking steps to provide gender and ethnicity wage data and commit to closing the gap, making it the first U.S. bank to respond to shareholder concerns. In response to Citi’s steps, Arjuna Capital withdrew its gender pay shareholder proposal on Monday, January 15, 2018. Continue Reading →

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Walgreens Boots Alliance: Proxy Vote

Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA), operates as a pharmacy-led health and wellbeing company. It operates through three segments: Retail Pharmacy USA, Retail Pharmacy International, and Pharmaceutical Wholesale. Walgreens opposes giving shareholders more effective proxy access to enable us to place nominees on our company’s ballot. Additionally, Walgreens opposes lowering the threshold to enable shareholders to call a special meeting. In short, shareholder rights are lacking. Without changes, Walgreens is likely to continue to lag the Nasdaq, as it has done for the last one and two year time periods.

The annual meeting is coming up on January 17, 2018. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 47% of the time. View Proxy Statement via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →

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Part 4 28th Annual SRI Conference

Part 4 28th Annual SRI Conference in San Diego. Search  on Twitter to see more posts. See Parts 1, 2, and 3. Yes, I know, this conference was held months ago but I’m still digesting… maybe until the next one. I could spend a productive year just exploring links to the work of the speakers. Mark your calendar for November 1-3, 2018. The SRI Conference returns to the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. Get on the mailing list. Continue Reading →

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NTRS Resolution: Victory or Defeat?

The Northern Trust Corporation (NTRS) is moving toward more democratic governance, thanks to a proxy access proposal submitted on my behalf by John Chevedden in November. Since I own no where near 1% of NTRS (market cap $23B), we would have been denied the right to file the proposal if the Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable and others had their way.

On December 12th, in response to the proposal, the Board of NTRS amended its bylaws to provide for proxy access. From the 8-K: Continue Reading →

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