Tag Archives | Steiner

Frozen Charters: Major CorpGov Issue

Thanks to Scott Hirst‘s articles and papers on the subject, I can borrow his catchy label for one of biggest current problems in corporate governance. Frozen charters are supermajority provisions that are impossible to repeal. He appears to attribute that to the 2012 change by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), which changed its policies to prohibit brokers from voting uninstructed shares on corporate governance proposals. I would lay a larger share of the blame on founders who wrote the frozen charters to forever retain a large degree of control. Regardless of who is to blame, frozen charters are a problem that needs fixed.  Managers, boards, shareholders, Republicans and Democrats should all be able agree on a solution. Continue Reading →

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Chevedden Group Proxy Proposals

For years, the “Chevedden group” (Chevedden, McRitchie/Young and Steiner) has focused almost exclusively on governance proposals. More democratic corporations are likely to listen to their shareholders on other issues as well.  Democracies facilitate voice and the exchange of ideas. Fighting for environmental and social issues, while extremely important, felt like addressing symptoms, rather than root causes.

Chevedden group proposals seek to declassify boards, require majority votes to elect directors, allow proxy access, and allow shareholders to call special meetings. Since many large cap companies have now adopted such provisions, we are broadening our scope to also focus on other issues. Below are some preliminary results for 2018. Continue Reading →

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SEC Shareholder Proposal Panel – Take Action!

The November 15 SEC Roundtable on the Proxy Process will include me on the SEC Shareholder Proposal Panel. Public announcement with instructions for submitting comments. I will only have a few minutes at the Roundtable. What should I emphasize? Where should I stay in DC?

Take Action: Readers of CorpGov.net know far more than I do. Please email your suggestions and supporting evidence. Without your help, I will ramble off topic to connected tangents, difficult to explain in a few seconds. This post is sure to be an example. Continue Reading →

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Investor Response to Chamber: Don’t Gut Rights

Investor Response to Chamber: Letter

Representatives of hundreds of investors with trillions of dollars in assets delivered a letter to the SEC on November 9, 2017, An Investor response to U.S. Chamber’s Proposal to Revise SEC Rule 14a-8 (report).

We noted with interest the November 1, 2017, guidance contained in Staff Legal Bulletin No. 14I. While we are reserving judgment about how the guidance may apply in practice, we are particularly pleased by Director Hinman’s accompanying statement that the guidance is not intended to “make things easier or harder for one side or the other, . . . [but] to improve the process.” We strongly support that goal and plan to actively monitor the SEC staff no-action process during the upcoming proxy season to determine whether the goal was achieved.

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William Steiner, Shareholder Activist

William Steiner recently became the most experienced shareholder activist alive to win majority votes for shareholder proposals at public companies. A few months ago, he celebrated 40 years of shareholder activism with an overwhelming victory at Haemonetics Corporation (HAE). The following is based on an interview with Mr. Steiner by his son, Kenneth Steiner, who works with his father to carry on what has become a family legacy. Continue Reading →

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Business Roundtable to SEC: Muzzle Shareholders

proxymonitorsmeasurecsmypropsAs I indicated yesterday, I have been contacted by several reporters for comments on the latest screed from the Business Roundtable seeking to muzzle the rights of shareholders. Although I have much more productive ways to occupy my time, it does make sense for me to provide at least some response, since the Business Roundtable names me among those “pursuing special interests… frequently at a significant cost to the company.”

Their statistics do not come from an objective third party, such as Proxy Insight, but from the conservative Manhattan Institute‘s Proxy Monitor (funded in part by the Koch Family Foundations), covering only 250 out of thousands of American companies. The Business Roundtable titled their report Responsible Shareholder Engagement And Long-Term Value Creation: Modernizing the Shareholder Proposal Process. Don’t be fooled by the numbers they use, claiming few proposals pass. The Business Roundtable doesn’t count proposals that don’t make it to the proxy because proponents and companies have reached agreement. They don’t count proposals filed at the thousands of small companies, which tend to have poorer corporate governance practices. ‘Modernization’ for the Business Roundtable means moving the SEC further and further from its primary mandate of ‘investor protection’ by creating a democracy-free zone for entrenched managers.  Continue Reading →

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General Electric Company (GE): Proxy Score 57

GEGeneral Electric Company (GE), which operates as an infrastructure and financial services company worldwide, is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their annual meeting is coming up on 4/22/2015. ProxyDemocracy.org had the vote of two funds when I checked and voted on 4/15/2015.  I voted with management 57% of the time and assigned General Electric a proxy score of 57.

View Proxy Statement. Read Warnings below. What follows are my recommendations on how to vote the General Electric Corporation 2015 proxy in order to enhance corporate governance and long-term value. Continue Reading →

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Johnson & Johnson (JNJ): Proxy Score 44

Johnson & JohnsonJohnson & Johnson (JNJ), which researches, develops, manufactures, and sells various products in the health care field worldwide, is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their annual meeting is coming up on 4/23/2015. ProxyDemocracy.org had the vote of three funds when I checked and voted on 4/17/2015.  I voted with management 44% of the time and assigned Johnson & Johnson a proxy score of 44.

View Proxy Statement. Read Warnings below. What follows are my recommendations on how to vote the Johnson & Johnson 2015 proxy in order to enhance corporate governance and long-term value. Continue Reading →

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Dow Chemical (DOW): How I Voted – Proxy Score 44

Dow Chemical (DOW) is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their annual meeting is coming up on 5/10/2012. Voting ends 5/9 on Moxy Vote’s proxy voting platform, which listed four “good causes,” including two consolidations, when I checked and voted on 5/7. ProxyDemocracy.org had two funds voting. DOW scores 44 out of 100, since I voted with management on only 44% of the proxy. Continue Reading →

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Proxy Access Proposals Challenged: Starting to Post Responses

ISS reported that Textron filed a Dec. 23 no-action petition with the SEC to omit a shareowner proposal from Ken Steiner that seeks proxy access using the model proposal developed by USPX.

This appears to be the first no-action request filed on a proxy access proposal this season. The company asserts that Steiner’s resolution improperly constitutes multiple proposals, is “impermissibly Continue Reading →

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15th Proxy Access Proposal of Season Filed at Nabors

Bermuda-based energy-drilling contractor Nabors Industries Ltd., already being sued by shareowners over executive pay issues now faces a proxy access proposal filed by CalSTRS and nine public pension funds from Connecticut, Illinois, New York and North Carolina. The company’s stock has lost about a quarter of its value this year. According to New York City Comptroller John C. Liu, who submitted the proposal on behalf of the City’s five pension funds,

Expropriating the corporate treasury to fund egregious CEO pay packages at the shareholder’s expense is both a symptom and a consequence of Nabors’ entrenched board. The only way to fix a recalcitrant board is to enable shareholders to elect directors other than those nominated by that same board.

According to a press release from CalSTRS, the funds are part of a larger group of 11 public funds that called upon the Nabors’ board in a September 29 letter (PDF; 61KB) to Continue Reading →

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Verizon Communications: Deliberate Cheating or Just Error?

John Chevedden sent along this example of a shareowner proposal by Kenneth Steiner to allow shareowner’s holding 10% of the company’s shares to call a special meeting. The proxy language was butchered, removing the title.

Verizon claims stripping away the title of the proposal had no impact on votes. Chevedden points out Verizon didn’t strip away the titles of management’s proposals. Even with this handicap, Steiner’s proposal received 43% support. It is disappointing to find yet another example where management has their thumb on the scale and is unapologetic. (see also, How Votes are Counted: More Important Than Who Votes at Plum Creek)

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