Tag Archives | shareowners

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 →

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Deal Professor Equates Filing Proxy Proposals with Terrorism

Deal Professor Envisions Corporate Gadfly

Starting with Corporations

Most people don’t like their behavior criticized. CEOs and boards almost always fight my proxy proposals aimed at improving corporate governance. Likewise, I wasn’t happy with the Deal Professor’s criticisms of my shareowner activism in his August 19th NYTimes article, Grappling With the Cost of Corporate Gadflies, which also criticizes John Chevedden and William Steiner. I stewed for days but finally took the advice of a good friend, who is Assistant General Counsel & Corporate Secretary at a major company,

Better to be engaged than enraged!

If I had more time available, my response would have been shorter but I have a number of projects that demand attention. When I submit proposals, I want boards to weigh them carefully on the merits. I have tried to do that with the Deal Professor’s criticism. I hope our mutual use of hyperbole doesn’t preclude further engagement. Unlike the character in the cartoon at right, I feel no need to irritate… but I do often question mechanisms in corporate governance that isolate and concentrate power, rather than distributing it. I prefer structures that distribute power, making us of the wisdom found at all levels.  Continue Reading →

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Letter to P&I Re Fiduciary Duty Editorial

P&I-proxy-voters-cartoon Below is an email I sent to Pensions & Investments (P&I) editorial chief Barry Burr praising their editorial enhancing fiduciary duty and opining on how it may speed the arrival of the time when retail investors will vote their values with the simple push of a button or two on their cell phones. I will follow this tomorrow with some additional remarks regarding the advent of open client directed voting, assisted by this expanded fiduciary duty.

Dear Editor:

Thank you for your important editorial, Winning Over Proxy Voters, which argues that institutional investors have a fiduciary duty to announce their proxy votes in advance of annual meetings, if doing so is likely to influence voters.

Votes are assets. Announcing votes in advance of meetings puts the value of those assets to their full use; announcing votes after the meeting does not. Continue Reading →

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Quick Bites on CorpGov

UnknownDon’t miss the following great reads:

 Activist shareholders’ top priorities for 2014. A must read for directors and shareowners alike. Here’s the first paragraph.

Many of us free ride on actions taken by active, long-term shareholders. These unsung heroes goad managers and boards to reach better decisions, make available desirable employment opportunities and, overall, push them to act like good corporate citizens. These active investors accomplish these things by talking to companies, preparing proxy proposals for all shareholders to consider, and offering recommendations on director elections and company-sponsored proxy measures.

Ralph Ward digs past the standard bullshit in his 2014 Boardroom Insider. Always plenty to chew on in a few short pages. Here’s a tidbit, which I hope will leave you wanting more, which includes more tips than you’ll find in pages and pages of other publications aimed at directors. Continue Reading →

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Using Sharegate: The Next Great Shareholder Communications Platform

sharegateOne way to use Sharegate is to announce your proxy votes. Far too many retail shareowners just trash their proxies instead of using them. A common misconception is that shareowners should take the Wall Street Walk and sell if they are displeased with any aspect of a company they own. That is like saying you should pack up and move out of the neighborhood if you think there should be a stop sign at the end of the block.  Continue Reading →

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Dissident Directors and Proxy Access: Best Defense May Be the Same

Directors&Boards3rdQtr2013coversilver-apple-logo-apple-pictureI have a ‘no-action’ request by Apple on my desk. They are fighting my attempt to include consideration of a proxy access proposal at their next annual meeting. Like most no-action requests to the SEC, this one is full of dry uninspired attempts to raise procedural minutiae as a basis for exclusion. Also sitting on my desk is the latest issue of Directors&Boards with the following sentence in huge type on the cover: Should You Serve on an Activist’s Slate?

That looks a lot more interesting. Apple can wait. Won’t it be nice, I think, when boards welcome proxy access, the new ideas and candidates that are likely to follow? Let’s see what they have to say at Directors&Boards. Continue Reading →

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Review Essay: Citizens DisUnited

Citizens DisUnited: Passive Investors, Drone CEOs, and the Corporate Capture of the American Dream both delights and informs as only Robert A.G. Monks can. No one else writes so well about topics like “How CEOs and the Business Roundtable Hijacked the World’s Greatest Wealth Machine” and those in the current volume because no one else has been as engaged in corporate governance as Monks with such depth from so many angles.

A serial entrepreneur, public official, director, prolific author and long-time agitator, his lifework has been delineating the underlying dynamics of corporate power and devising system that integrate wealth creation with the interests of society. Citizens DisUnited is a clear call to action. I hope my review advances that call by emphasizing the need for every investor, every citizen to get involved. Continue Reading →

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CalSTRS Furthers ShareOwner Revolution With Announcement of Disney Vote

CalSTRS announced its vote at the March 6, 2013, Walt Disney Company annual shareholder meeting. CalSTRS voted against several directors and management proposals, and voted for shareholder proposals to allow proxy access and separate the CEO and chairman positions. What is significant about the announcement is that it went over each director candidate and issue on the ballot and not only disclosed how CalSTRS voted but why. Here’s the thrust of their press release. Continue Reading →

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Corporate Directors Forum – Day 2

This is the last in my series on the Corporate Directors Forum 2013. See materials, slideshowCorporate Directors Forum 2013: Bonus Session, and Corporate Directors Forum 2013 – Day 1, Part 1, and Corporate Directors Forum: Day 1, Part 2. The program was subject to the Chatham House Rule, so there will be little in the way of attribution below but I hope to provide some sense of the discussion. I throw in a lot of opinions. Some are those of panelists, some are mine, and some came from the audience. Continue Reading →

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Corporate Directors Forum: Day 1, Part 2

Below are some relatively quick notes I took at the Corporate Directors Forum 2013, held on the beautiful campus of the University of San Diego, January 27-29, 2013. See materialsCorporate Directors Forum 2013: Bonus Session, and Corporate Directors Forum 2013 – Day 1, Part 1.

The program was subject to the Chatham House Rule, so there will be little in the way of attribution below but I hope to provide some sense of the discussion. I throw in a lot of opinions. Some are those of panelists, some are mine, and some came from the audience.  I still get a little lost in some of the financial discussions but think we need to raise public understanding, so I don’t shy away from trying to learn or from offering opinions. I had fun, learned from various perspectives, renewed acquaintances and made some new ones. If corporate governance is your thing, I hope to see you there in 2014. Continue Reading →

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Corporate Directors Forum 2013 – Day 1, Part 1

Below are some relatively quick notes I took at the Corporate Directors Forum 2013, held on the beautiful campus of the University of San Diego, January 27-29, 2013. See materials. The program was subject to the Chatham House Rule, so there will be little in the way of attribution below but I hope to provide some sense of the discussion.

I throw in a lot of opinions. Some are those of panelists, some are mine, and some came from the audience.  I learned a few things, renewed acquaintances and made some new ones. If corporate governance is your thing, I hope to see you there in 2014.

First, a quick shout out to Linda Sweeney, executive director, Corporate Directors Forum; Larry Stambaugh and Michael J. Berthelot, program co–chairs; James Hale and Anne Sheehan, meeting co–chairs, as well as all the others who made CDF such a great experience, including valets, cooks, wait staff, student volunteers and many more. Continue Reading →

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Corporate Directors Forum 2013: Bonus Session

Below are some relatively quick notes I took at the Corporate Directors Forum 2013, Bonus Session, held on the beautiful campus of the University of San Diego, January 27, 2013. For a list of conference materials, see the Forum’s official site. My site, Corporate Governance (CorpGov.net) is unaffiliated.

The program was subject to the Chatham House Rule, so there will be little in the way of attribution. Don’t expect complete sentences or thoughts either. The links are mine but don’t represent an endorsement by me. They just seemed relevant in a split second decision of how to add a little value to the conversation. Opinions will differ. I throw out lots of opinions. Some are those of panelists, some are mine, and some came from the audience.  I learned a few things, renewed acquaintances and made some new ones. I hope this provides readers with some sense of the discussion. That’s my main objective. Continue Reading →

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Call for Papers – Journal of Corporate Finance

Since the Cadbury Report was published in 1992 in the UK, there has been increasing emphasis not just by UK regulators but also by regulators from other countries, including the USA and Continental Europe, of the role of boards of directors in corporate governance. However, 20 years down the line it is still uncertain whether boards of directors are able to fulfill the important role they have been assigned by regulators. Continue Reading →

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Turkey's e-GEM Beats Broadridge at Shareowner Communication

Turkey became the first country to require issuers to offer electronic proxy voting with the 1 October inauguration of a voting platform from MKK called e-GEM. The system will stream annual general meetings (AGMs) real time and let shareowners communicate with each other, vote before the meeting, and even change their vote as an annual meeting occurs. Other markets have e-voting but do not require it of all listed companies. Expect other markets to keep an eye on this development.  (Corporate Governance Roundup: New Rules in Canada, Switzerland, Continue Reading →

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Expect a More Active Proxy Season

The 2012 edition of Shareholder Activism Insight sees increasing opposition from shareowners during the next proxy season, according to 78% of respondents. Fully 84% predict an increase in the number of shareholder proposals with the financial services sector hit the hardest. One quarter of corporate executives think 30% or more of shareowner proposals will obtain a majority vote.

In the second quarter of 2012, Schulte Roth & Zabel commissioned mergermarket to interview senior corporate executives and activist investors regarding their experience with shareholder activism and their expectations for the upcoming 12 to 24 months. Continue Reading →

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USPX Suspends Central Activities

As many readers may know, a few months ago I joined the board of the United States Proxy Exchange (USPX). I’ve long been impressed with the work of USPX’s volunteer executive director, Glyn Holton. We worked closely  on several sets of comments to the SEC, Model Shareowner Proposal for Proxy Access and subsequent no-action responses, Shareowner Guidelines for Say-on-Pay Voting, the Amicus Curiae in the case of Apache Corp. v John Chevedden, etc. I could go on and on. Continue Reading →

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Video Friday: Shareholder Empowerment vs. Board Authority

Delaware Chief Justice Myron T. Steele sponsored by The Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance on Nov 15, 2011. Steele has published over 300 opinions resolving disputes among members of limited liability companies, and limited partnerships, and between shareholders and management of both publicly traded and close corporations. Watch the video. Continue Reading →

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Board Service: A Great Gig… Especially @ Apple

Looking for work-life balance? Work from home (at least part of the time). Set your own pay — $1,000 per hour and up. No threat of layoffs or workforce cutbacks. Part-time hours and multiple positions available. Excellent way to supplement your retirement income. No application necessary

The term “chemistry,” or your ability to work collegially with the other members, is often used in board searches, and it can make or Continue Reading →

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