Tag Archives | council of institutional investors

Dual-Class Should Sunset Says Rob Jackson

US stock exchanges should require sunset provisions for dual-class shares, SEC commissioner Rob Jackson said in his first speech since taking office last month.  In the speech at UC Berkeley School of Law, he likened dual-class shares that do not sunset to “corporate royalty” and said such structures were “antithetical to our values as Americans.”

If you run a public company in America, you’re supposed to be held accountable for your work—maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday.

CII welcomed Jackson’s remarks. “We applaud Commissioner Jackson for using his first major public speech to support CII’s ongoing efforts to address the problem of unequal voting rights,” CII Executive Director Ken Bertsch said in a statement.

A dual-class structure without a sunset provision —‘forever shares’— says to investors, ‘we’ll take your money, but we won’t ever value your vote on how we use your capital to run the business over the long-term.’ That’s not equitable treatment of investors, and it’s certainly not good corporate governance.

CII has endorsed those measures taken by indexes to ban dual-class shares and only reluctantly backed sunset clauses. Jackson did not suggest his fellow commissioners take action, although he did say he hopes they share his views someday. Fellow Democratic appointee Kara Stein already does, saying that dual class listings are “inherently undemocratic.”

I certainly welcome Commissioner Jackson’s remarks. I’ve written many posts on dual-class shares over the last few years. I like the ban indexers are enforcing and also embrace the idea 0f sunset provisions for dual-class shares of two years. However, I don’t see US stock exchanges imposing sunset provisions. That is much more likely to come from the SEC… maybe, under the next administration. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

AES “Games” SEC: CII Seeks Correction

CII sent an important letter to the SEC on a recent no-action issued to the AES Corporation (AES) (not yet posted). A similar no-action had been granted in 2016 to Illumina (ILMN) on a proposal I (James McRitchie) had submitted. ISS referenced both. From the facts regarding AES, it appears John Chevedden submitted a proposal to lower the required threshold for shareholder to call a special meeting. The current standard is 25%. Chevedden’s proposal requested 10%. The SEC’s no-action letter gave the following rationale: Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Maxine Waters Opposes HR 4015 Proxy Advisors

HR 4015 Statement of Opposition

HR 4015 was opposed yesterday by Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services. She gave the following floor statement in opposition to HR 4015, a bill that would undermine sound corporate governance:

Mr. Speaker, HR 4015, the so-called Corporate Governance Reform and Transparency Act, would create an untested, inappropriate, and burdensome regulatory framework for proxy advisory firms, making it much more difficult for shareholders to obtain unbiased research used to make well-informed voting decisions about the companies they own. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

CII Highlights Chinese VIE Corporate Structure Risk

A new report from the Council of Institutional Investors (CII) underlines the risks posed to investors by a corporate structure called a variable interest entity (VIE). Sixty two percent of Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges use a VIE, including internet giants Sina, Baidu, Alibaba and JD.com. U.S. exchanges are experiencing a surge of Chinese VIE IPOs, with 20 filings this year, including 15 since September 1, compared to six in 2016 and seven in 2015. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

CII: Richard Bookstaber – Dynamic Risk Models

Richard Bookstaber: Human Complexity and the Financial Markets

Richard Bookstaber discusses value at risk modeling — easily the most illuminating talk at #CIIFall2017. It was certainly statistics aimed at the layperson. However, in listening to him, I was glad I completed by PhD comprehensive in statistics 35 years ago.  I scribbled a few notes. Although I can’t guarantee accuracy, if I motivate a few fund managers to read his The End of Theory: Financial Crises, the Failure of Economics, and the Sweep of Human Interaction I will be delighted. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

CII: Public Companies Endangered Species?

Public Companies Endangered Species: CII Panel

Are public companies an endangered species? If so, why? How can we solve that problem? At last week’s Council of Institutional Investors (CII) Fall Conference there as an informative panel discussion entitled Public Companies: An Endangered Species?

Panelists were David BrownMichael Mauboussin, and Robert McCooey moderated by the always erudite and entertaining Frank Partnoy, one of the best facilitators in the corporate governance industry. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Report from CII Winter Meeting: ESG

CIIEven in Washington, the numbers are impressive. The Council of Institutional Investors, who met in Washington DC this week, represents 23 trillion (with a t) dollars, mostly made up of retirement and other savings of working families. Compare that to the entire budget of the US government, less than two trillion a year. Like most industry group meetings in Washington, this one had presentations on what to expect from Congress and the regulatory agencies and how millennials will change the way the members do business, plus snack breaks and wireless sponsored by firms trying to sell products and services to the attendees. But the a two and a half day session featured repeated agenda topics on climate change and what are called ESG issues, suggesting that pension funds may step in where governments have failed. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Walt Disney Company: Proxy Score 25

Walt Disney Company

Walt Disney Company: before you vote your proxy

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS), together with its subsidiaries, operates as an entertainment company worldwide.

The Walt Disney Company is one of the stocks in my portfolio. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of three fund families when I checked and voted. Their annual meeting is coming up on March 8, 2017.

I voted FOR Proxy Access Amendments. See how and why I voted other items below. I voted with the Board’s recommendations only 25% of the time. View Proxy Statement via iiWisdom. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Directors Forum 2017 & Trump – Part 1

Linda Sweeney - Eec Director - Directors Forum 2016

Linda Sweeney – Exec Director – Directors Forum 2016

Directors Forum 2017 in San Diego was billed as Directors, Management, & Shareholders in Dialogue. Sure, all well and good, but I went there also hoping to learn more about President Donald J. Trump. He is the subject of a huge portion of tweets, Facebook posts and much of the news, so I expected Trump to also be the center of attention at Directors Forum 2017.

Directors Forum 2017 - iJoan B. Kroc Institute for Peace Justice

Directors Forum 2017 – Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace Justice

I know what those in my immediate circles in Sacramento are saying. Clinton got 58% of the vote to Trump’s 34%. My news silos are much the same. At Directors Forum 2017 were directors and managers from companies, large and medium (the focus is rarely on small companies, although the Forum does better than most). Investors representing trillions of dollars in assets were in the room and on stage. What was the speculation on Trump and his impact on what we do? Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Vote Real Proxy Access at Whole Foods

Real Proxy Access at Whole Foods - Give Us the Key

Real Proxy Access at Whole Foods – Give Us the Key (cartoon from old issue of Pensions & Investments)

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.

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Apple Shareholders Rejected Real Proxy Access

Apple Shareholders Rejected Real Proxy AccessApple shareholders rejected real proxy access at their meeting on February 25, 2016. Maybe shareholders thought they already have it. Recent decisions by the SEC could lead shareholders to believe proxy access was “substantially implemented.”

Maybe they wanted to support Apple’s management while the company is under attack from the FBI.  

ISS recommended a “For” vote. Shouldn’t that have guaranteed passage?

We probably won’t know for months which Apple shareholders rejected real proxy access… and maybe that’s the key point.

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Proxy Access at Apple: Last Day to Vote

Proxy Access at AppleProxy Access at Apple (AAPL) will be one of the most important votes of the proxy season. Will shareholders settle for the board’s recently adopted “lite” version, akin to greenwashing, or will shareholders vote in favor of real proxy access? Boards, investors, and the corporate governance industrial complex are watching in anticipation.  Your opportunity to vote  on this important issue expires TODAY, February 25th at 8:59pm PST (11:59pm EST) if you are using ProxyVote.com.

80% of retail shares aren’t typically voted, so it is almost as if you’ll be voting for five. If you are like me, you may hold Apple ($AAPL) stock in more than one account. Be sure to vote them all. Do it today, unless you will attend the meeting tomorrow. Vote FOR #8, Adopt Proxy Access Right. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Apple Adopts Proxy Access Lite

Apple Adopts Proxy AccessAs reported by the Wall Street Journal (Apple Offers Proxy Accessand the Financial Times (Campaigners hail Apple shareholder move), Apple adopts proxy access. Yes, that’s progress, but we shouldn’t be gushing in praise over proxy access lite.

See Apple bylaws, pages 18-26, 5.15 Proxy Access for Director Nominations. Compare with the Council of Institutional Investors’ (CII) Best Practices.

Scott Stringer, New York City comptroller, called the Apple decision a

tipping point… Corporate resistance to proxy access is crumbling as more and more boards are coming to the table and working with investors to provide greater accountability that will drive long-term value.

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Deep Dive on Water Risks & iiWisdom

Water RisksWater risks and and an Internet program from iiWisdom are the subjects of my last notes and photos from attending the Council of Institutional Investors Fall 2015 Conference in Boston. The Deep Dive on Water Risks was hosted by Ceres.

The interactive Internet program from iiWisdom looks to be very handy for finding information contained in corporate proxies. Feel free to post corrections, and additional material relevant to these two topics using the site’s comment feature. Find more posts from the conference on Corporate Governance or on Twitter by searching #CIIFall2015. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Activist Hedge Funds Policing Wall Street

Hedge Funds Policing Wall StreetThis is one of a many part series from the Council of Institutional Investors Fall 2015 Conference in Boston. This part of the program dealt with hedge funds and policing Wall Street. Sorry for the delay in posting but other tasks keep intervening. Keep in mind, I generally am not quoting speakers. Instead, I’m providing my reaction. Sometimes there can be a big difference.

Please feel free to post corrections, counterpoints and additional relevant material on the activist hedge funds and policing Wall Street, using the site’s comment feature. I find these two topics at an interesting juxtaposition. The graphic at right was created by Victor Juhasz for Rolling Stone’s Looting the Pension FundsFind more posts from the conference on this site or Twitter by searching #CIIFall2015. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Investing for the Long-Term: #CIIFall2015

Amy Borrus

Amy Borrus, CII

This was an interesting session from the Council of Institutional Investors Fall 2015 Conference in Boston. Please feel free to post corrections, counterpoints and additional relevant material on topic of Investing for the Long-Term, using the site’s comment feature. Find more posts from the conference on this site or Twitter by searching #CIIFall2015.

Investing for the Long-Term

Mark Grier, Vice Chairman, Prudential Financial
Ronald O’Hanley, President & CEO, State Street Global Advisors
Moderator: Theresa Whitmarsh, Executive Director, Washington State Investment Board Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Challenges of Pension Fund Chiefs: #CIIFall2015

Council of Institutional InvestorsThis session was a transition between  and #CIIFall2015 conferences in Boston. Deborah Goldberg, the Treasurer of Massachusetts, provided the opening remarks. She was followed by a panel discussing the priorities and challenges of pension fund chiefs. Please feel free to point out any corrections, counterpoints and additional points using the site’s comment feature.
Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Best Practices Spread from Well-Governed Companies

Well-Governed CompaniesAs I have advised companies where I have submitted proxy access proposals,  I am not singling out your company with the aim of implementing proxy access. In fact, I would rather first target well-governed companies, which are more likely to adopt best practices as outlined by the Council of Institutional Investors. Best practices generally spread from well-governed companies to companies that are not well-governed, not the other way around.  We can’t portray a company as having bad corporate governance, as an outlier, until most companies have adopted best practices. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Avoiding Proxy Access Lite: Revised Template

CII - Proxy Access: Best PracticesLast 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. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Fixing Proxy Access Lite

Whole Foods Market (WFM)As I have mentioned in other posts (see especially Proxy Access Lite: Victories at Whole Foods, H&R Block), several companies have adopted proxy access ‘lite’ with provisions that make implementation excessively difficult and less effective than they would have been under the SEC’s universal proxy access Rule 14a-11.

Although I withdrew proposals at several companies, based on the fact that even adoption of proxy access lite represented real progress, I vowed to circle back and seek more robust provisions through subsequent amendments. I recently filed the first such proposal at Whole Foods Market. Let’s start fixing proxy access lite.  Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Clorox Adopts Proxy Access Lite

cloroxIn response to a proxy access proposal I filed earlier this year, Clorox Co (NYSE:CLX), manufacturer and marketer of consumer and professional products, adopted proxy access (press release, amended bylaws). I am declaring another victory and withdrawing my proposal.

While I filed a standard proxy access proposal seeking the ability of shareholders with 3% of shares held for 3 years to be able to nominate up to 25% of the board, Clorox adopted bylaws allowing nominations only up to 20% and limiting nominating groups to 20, whereas my proposals had no such restrictions on the number of participants in nominating groups. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

SEC Creates Turmoil with Whole Foods No Action on Proxy Access

Proxy Access (P&I)

Pensions & Investments

Apologies to those tired of reading about the issue of proxy access at Whole Foods. However, the SEC’s no action letter is a real watershed moment in the long struggle for proxy access, which began in earnest for me with a rulemaking petition in August 2002 but which others have been puruing for decades. Last Friday I received a letters from the Council of Institutional Investors (CII) and the Marco Consulting Group Trust in support of my December 23, 2014 appeal. (See below or CII site.

I am delighted to see the growing concern and support from investors for my appeal. As has been pointed out in the press, we are now witnessing the beginning of an avalanche of copycat filings. See Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

CII Requests Change to Whole Foods Proposal

CIIThe Counsel of Institutional Investors (CII) took a very strong stand yesterday, asking Whole Foods Market to amend its proxy access proposal to conform with the “3 percent for three years” standard applicable to groups.

Whole Foods appears to have generated their proposal in direct response to mine in order to obtain a no-action letter from the SEC under Rule 14a-8(i)(9). As reported earlier, I appealed the SEC’s decision on Whole Foods to the full Commission.  Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

CII Fall 2014 Conference: Part 2

CIIThis is first time I’ve attended a Council of Institutional Investors (CII) semi-annual conference. My report from first day events can be found at CII Fall 2014 Conference: Part 1. Okay, I’m getting more cryptic in my second day of notes. Sorry, I’m not willing to take the time to clean them up. Watch out for possible misstatements. Don’t bet on anything I write. There are no fact checkers or even grammar editors at corpgov.net.

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

CII Fall 2014 Conference: Part 1

CII

This is the first time I’ve attended a Council of Institutional Investors (CII) semi-annual conference. As at most conferences, the biggest draw is the ability to network, making new contacts and refreshing old ones. I was delighted to reconnect with Meredith Miller, chief corporate governance officer, UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust. I hadn’t seen Meredith since we were both graduate students a long time ago. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Research Design: Advance Proxy Vote Disclosers

P&I Proxy Voters Cartoon re fiduciary dutyAs I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Council of Institutional Investors Fall 2014 Conference: Meeting Availability, I’m encouraging a research project looking into the impact that funds announcing their proxy votes in advance have or can have. I’ve joined with Pensions&Investments in arguing funds have a fiduciary duty to make such advance proxy vote disclosures when that could influence the outcome. Now I want to see if that condition ever applies. Under what circumstances is advance disclosure likely to influence the outcome of corporate elections? Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

CSP Inc. (CSPI): Draft Proxy Access Proposal – Comments Invited

CSPIIn February, I reported that prospects were looking up at nano-cap CSP, Inc. (CSPI), one of the companies in my portfolio. See CSP Inc. (CSPI): How I Voted – Proxy Score 100. CSPI completed a number of reforms, including declassifying the Board.  In addition, CSPI started paying a dividend and adopted a mandatory retirement age of 75 for directors, leading to some board refreshment. However, since then the NASDAQ has gone up by about 9%, while CSPI stock has gone down about 3%. I am a long-term investor, so am willing to give the current board more time to demonstrate their performance.

At the same time it is better to take preventive measures by continuing to improve corporate governance BEFORE problems arise.  There is no more fundamental measure to ensure the Board’s accountability to shareowners than proxy access. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes