Last month, with the help of fellow ‘economy class investor’ John Chevedden, I submitted a proposal to Hain Celestial (HAIN) to adopt a full majority director election standard. Majority voting has become a widely prevalent practice in the S&P 500 index, with only 14% of companies failing to adopt this standard. Hain is in the S&P 600 mid-cap index where only 47% have adopted a majority vote standard. Most maintain a plurality standard. So, we were attempting to move this good governance standard downstream to mid-caps. Continue Reading →
The National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) announced the 2014 NACD Directorship 100, the annual list that recognizes leading corporate directors, corporate governance experts, policymakers, and influencers who significantly impact boardroom practices and performance. NACD has recognized individual directors who serve as role models in promoting exemplary board leadership, oversight, and courage in the boardroom for more than 37 years. Continue Reading →
It is good to see former CalPERS CEO Federico R. Buenrostro finally pleading guilty, with “sources” telling Pensions & Investments that “his admissions could result in expanded criminal charges for his codefendant… Alfred Villalobos,” as well as possible “indictments against two former CalPERS board members, Kurato Shimada and Charles Valdes.” (Guilty plea opens new chapter in CalPERS story and Former CEO of CalPERS pleads guilty to fraud, corruption charge, LATimes).
However, to me it feels a little like the recent botched execution of Joseph Wood in Arizona. What bothers me more than the almost two hours it took for the lethal injection to kill Wood was the fact that it was twenty-five years after his crime. After twenty-five years, how much of the man they executed is the same as the man who committed the crimes? Similarly, are those indicted at CalPERS the same people anymore? One former board member certainly worth questioning was Robert Carlson… but, after 37 years on the board, he’s dead. Continue Reading →
The Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System (LACERS), a $13.9 billion public pension fund, is requesting information from vendors with expertise in providing proxy voting services with a full range of proxy analysis and reporting capabilities. I expect they will hear from the dominant proxy voting services providers, ISS and Glass Lewis, but this also seems like a real opportunity for firms that are smaller, newer and/or based outside the United States to provide proxy voting services to a large public pension fund.
LACERS encourages smaller firms to apply for this RFI. Continue Reading →
John Oliver, the HBO comedian, discusses income inequality in America. How do you talk about income inequality without being accused of fomenting class warfare. pointed out in an epic rant on Sunday night, that optimism is woefully misplaced when it comes to the subject of severe income inequality. America’s biggest losers in the income inequality game are not about to win the lottery. Ain’t gonna happen. The game is rigged.
Remember when Obama mentioned the words “income inequality” some 26 times in a speech about a year and a half ago? He said it was the “defining challenge” of our time. For about five minutes it was all anyone was talking about in the media. It was, “You better watch your ass income inequality, you’re about to get violently ameliorated,” Oliver quips. Continue Reading →
GMI Ratings, the leading provider of research, data and analytics on environmental, social, governance (ESG) and forensic accounting risks affecting the performance of public companies, is introducing Accounting and Governance Risk (AGR®) ratings on over 9,000 companies in nearly 60 emerging market countries. GMI’s AGR ratings capture a variety of accounting irregularities and corporate governance weaknesses associated with negative events. With the addition of the emerging market companies, GMI now offers AGR ratings on nearly 29,000 companies worldwide. Continue Reading →
Cairn India is an oil and gas exploration and production company, headquartered in Gurgaon, India. It is a subsidiary of Vedanta Resources. Cairn India is one of the largest independent oil and gas exploration and production companies in India.
InGovern, India’s first independent proxy advisory and corporate governance research firm. reports that Cairn is giving loan of USD 1.25 billion to a group company, a foreign subsidiary of Sesa Sterlite Limited, at Libor plus 300 basis points for a 2-year period. The company has already disbursed $800 million, even before informing the shareholders. The disclosure is being made post hoc.
Continue Reading →
Vincent Ryan‘s recent CFO article, Rethinking Buybacks, should give directors pause before jumping on the bandwagon. In the first quarter of 2014, S&P companies repurchased an estimated $159.5B of their own shares. However, the performance of the S&P 500 Buyback Index, which tracks 100 stocks with the highest buyback rations, is lagging the return of the overall S&P 500 by nearly one percentage point, after beating it by 10% in 2013. Continue Reading →
When a company moves its shareholder meeting to a remote location, it is often associated with bad news, according to Evasive Shareholder Meetings (NBER Working Paper No. 19991) by Yuanzhi Li and David Yermack. The study finds that “companies are more likely to announce unfavorable quarterly earnings in the aftermath of long-distance meetings, and these firms’ stock prices significantly underperform market benchmarks over the six months following the meeting date.” After examining nearly 10,000 annual meetings held between 2006 and 2010, the authors find that a company that holds a shareholder meeting 1,000 miles away from its corporate headquarters has an average abnormal cumulative return of -3.7 percent on its stock during the ensuing six months. Continue Reading →
Last year I introduced a proxy access proposal at Reeds (REED) calling on the Board to allow 1% shareowners holding for two years to place their director nominees (up to 24% of the board) on the proxy. It also would have allowed a party of 25 or more $2,000 one year shareowners to place an equal number of nominees on the proxy. Since Reeds had a five member board, the proposal would have allowed for up to two shareowner nominees from two non-coordinating parties.
Reeds hired a law firm to build the case for a “no-action” letter from the SEC based on late submittal but it was on time and the SEC denied the request. Sorry to see our firm waste money trying to keep this item from a vote. Continue Reading →
The Conference on the Use and Misuse of Stock Price will take place on Friday, September 19, 2014, from 9:00AM-5:30PM at Columbia Law School in New York City and will be hosted by the Millstein Center and IRRC Institute. Mark your calendar. Continue Reading →
The American economy could face significant and widespread disruptions from climate change unless U.S. businesses and policymakers take immediate action to reduce climate risk, according to a new report, “Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States.” Check out their blog too.
The U.S. economy faces significant risks from unmitigated climate change. The Risky Business report presents a new approach to understanding these risks for key U.S. business sectors, and provides business leaders with a framework for measuring and mitigating their own exposure to climate risk. Join Henry M. Paulson, Jr., Michael R. Bloomberg, Thomas P. Steyer, and the members of the Risk Committee for the report release on Tuesday June 24th in New York City.
The Risky Business research focused on the clearest and most economically significant of these risks: Damage to coastal property and infrastructure from rising sea levels and increased storm surge, climate-driven changes in agricultural production and energy demand, and the impact of higher temperatures on labor productivity and public health.
The MBTI® assessment has been used successfully in improving board dynamics with many of Resultive Boards’ clients. By providing individual and team personality type reports, Resultive Boards has been able to illuminate the advantages of type diversity in decision making and problem solving, increase the efficiency of communication, and provide a common, nonthreatening language for all members of the board with whom they’ve worked. Continue Reading →
Thought experiment: Suppose the 21,000 employees of Hobby Lobby had been anonymously polled about whether their company should pay for insurance coverage for contraception, as required by the Affordable Care Act. Suppose the results showed that a comfortable majority, say 55 percent, believed — against the views of their leaders in management — in full coverage. What can we deduce from this hypothetical but plausible scenario? Three deductions come to mind.
One is that the notion of a poll, while interesting, is a meaningless act. Under commonly accepted notions of corporate law, employee voice does not really exist. It has no “standing.” It does not count. In light of that cold hard fact, employees should simply accept the judgment of their betters in management and get back to work. Continue Reading →
SSRN, the Social Science Research Network, is one of the best sources for academic research on corporate governance. What follows are brief highlights from four recent papers in corporate governance related topics. You may find SSRN research on corporate governance of interest.
Does Corporate Governance Quality Affect Analyst Coverage? Evidence from the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS)
Chintrakarn, Pandej and Jiraporn, Pornsit and Kim, Young Sang and Kim, Jang-Chul, Does Corporate Governance Quality Affect Analyst Coverage? Evidence from the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) (June 25, 2014). Available at SSRN. Continue Reading →