Directors&Boards is one of our “stakeholders.” No, that doesn’t mean they own part of us or that we own part of them and it doesn’t mean we always agree with each other. But they are included in our primary reference groups, those who contribute regularly to our “vocabulary of meaning.” The current edition begins to address two topics that need more attention. Continue Reading →
Tag Archives | directors
This slim but informative volume contains contributions from practitioners, policy-makers, principle-setters, advocacy groups and researchers on gender balance in the boardroom, the outcomes of the Norwegian quota law and its snowball effects in other countries. The book came out of a Think Tank organized in Oslo in March 2011. The Norwegian quota law demanded a minimum share of either gender of 40% on boards of publicly listed companies, about 1500 corporations as of January 2008.
Norway took a radical approach. The penalty for not meeting the quota was dissolution. No company took that chance. By any reasonable measure, the Norwegian law is a success. Has Norway’s example started a “wave effect” of momentum around the world? I think so, although Norway had a head start over most countries because they already had a strong base of human rights. Continue Reading →
Below are notes I took during the afternoon sessions at the Corporate Directors Forum 2014, held on the beautiful campus of the University of San Diego, January 26-28, 2014. This year, I was only able to attend on January 27th. 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.
If you are a director or candidate, investor, senior corporate officer, board or management advisor, academic, or are in some way part of the corporate governance industrial complex or want to be, I hope to see you there January 25-27, 2015. If you attended the Forum this year and have ideas for articles you would like to see or to write for CorpGov.net, please email me your ideas or drafts. Part 1. Continue Reading →
The UBC Faculty of Law welcomed its fourth Fasken Martineau Visiting Senior Scholar, Professor Margaret Blair. Professor Blair is an economist who focuses on management law and finance. Her current research focuses on five areas: team production and the legal structure of business organizations, legal issues in the governance of supply chains, the role of private sector governance arrangements in contract enforcement, the legal concept of corporate “personhood,” the historical treatment of corporations by the Supreme Court, and the problem of excessive leverage in financial markets.
Webcast sponsored by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre and hosted by the Faculty of Law at the University of British Columbia. It has become part of the accepted corporate governance wisdom in the U.S., as well as in numerous other countries, that boards of directors of publicly-traded corporations Continue Reading →
Guest post from Amanda Biggs, web manager and governance writer. By participating in the expansion of the Leading Boards portal for boards of directors, she has specialized on issues concerning the arrival of technology inside the boardroom.
All through the last decade new technology solutions and tools have moved from being non-existent to becoming a “must have” for many directors worldwide. Indeed, research and development led to “board portals” which are adapted to the boardrooms’ needs and have become be necessary for the modern challenges that boards face concerning workflow and management. The advent of the iPad with its mobile Continue Reading →
“Investing In Women – Increasing Opportunities For Funding Women” Presented by WITI (Women In Technology International) and NanoTecNexus. Presented at WITI San Diego Network meeting. Continue Reading →
Yesterday, in Part I, I discussed the most recent UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders: A Census of Women Directors and Executive Officers and how it led me to invest disproportionately in firms with more women CEOs and NEOs. Just how are women different than men and what kind of changes can we expect or hope for?
More Evidence Women Leaders Make Difference
And there is this from a recent article in The Economist (Vive la différence!, 12/7/2013):
MEN and women do not think in the same ways. Few would disagree with that. And science has quantified some of those differences. Men, it is pretty well established, have better motor and spatial abilities than women, and more monomaniacal patterns of thought. Women have better memories, are more socially adept, and are better at dealing with several things at once. There is a lot of overlap, obviously. But on average these observations are true…
the cross-talk between them in women, suggested by the wiring diagrams, helps explain their better memories, social adeptness and ability to multitask, all of which benefit from the hemispheres collaborating. In men, by contrast, within-hemisphere links let them focus on things that do not need complex inputs from both hemispheres. Continue Reading →
Since starting this blog in 1995, I’ve pushed for greater diversity on boards and in named executive officers (NEOs). Progress has proceeded at a glacial pace, at least in the United States. For the ninth year, the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, in partnership with Watermark, published the annual UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders: A Census of Women Directors and Executive Officers. The study found the average Top 25 firms (which have 25+% women at upper levels) makes three times as much revenue and almost 50% more net income than the average company in the study (which has 10.9% women).
After reading the study, I took the plunge, investing in seven of the top 25 California companies with the highest percentage of women leaders. Hopefully, investing in women will reap additional rewards and will help me carry on with my efforts to make corporate governance more democratic. Women obviously bring a different perspective that pays financial dividends. Will women in positions of power also result in a more salubrious environment, recognition of human rights and a more equitable distribution of wealth?
I invested in the following: Annie’s (BNNY), Medivation (MDVN), Genomic Health (GHDX), Bio-Rad Laboratories (BIO), NETGEAR (NTGR), Symantec (SYMC), and Visa (V). I’ve been trying to invest in Yahoo! (YHOO) and SciClone Pharmaceuticals (SCLN) but haven’t been successful at the prices I’ve bid. I already had investments in Walt Disney (DIS). See all my investments under Disclosures. Continue Reading →
My first effort to record a video on corporate governance is about my proxy access proposal, now being voted on at Reeds Inc. (REED). The video below explains Reeds’ great potential and why I submitted a 2013 shareholder proposal to allow shareholders proxy access for up to two director nominees.
Did you know 40% of our Board members own NO stock in our company or that directors are expected to show up for 10 Board meetings a year (plus various committee meetings) but are paid as little as $750 for their service? For that kind of work, with such little financial reward, what is their motive? Are they really Continue Reading →
Should boards reexamine stock buybacks? That was the subject addressed by a distinguished panel during a recent SVDX program hosted at Stanford’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance. What follows is the SVDX meeting pitch, with issues and brief bios, followed by a few of my observations at the event. Watch the video wrap-up (below) from WMS media Inc.
Continue Reading →
This timely book, edited by Joan Loughrey, brings together academics and practitioners to assess the efficacy of directors’ duties, or lack thereof, regarding shareholder litigation in the wake of the financial crisis. Although primarily focused on the UK and the Companies Act of 2006, the part played by the US and its regulatory scheme is not ignored. Americans reading the book will benefit from a better understanding of the UK framework and how portions may or may not apply here.
For example, the UK Code of Corporate Governance makes boards responsible for determining the nature and extent of the risks that companies should undertake. Yet, even in the wake of extreme circumstances and huge financial losses, Continue Reading →
In a recent Stanford “Closer Look” publication (How ISS Dictates Equity Plan Design), Ian D. Gow (Harvard but graduated from Stanford), David F. Larcker, Allan l. Mccall, and Brian Tayan argue ISS dictates pay equity plans. ‘Nonsense,’ was my first reaction. ISS policies generally reflect the will of its customers. The authors have a point but they miss the main problem. Their arguments begin in familiar territory. Continue Reading →
I 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 →
First time entrepreneurs often need to learn to better manage their boards. They rarely understand what boards expect of them or what they should expect from their board. The appropriate role of a board changes as a company matures. Entrepreneurs face inherent conflict of interests between their roles as shareholders, managers and their role as board members. Continue Reading →
This unique “must have” two volume set traces the development of corporate governance thought around the core issue of the separation of ownership and control while also touching on the board of directors, executive pay, shareholder activism and the regulatory structures that shape corporate governance in the U.S. I include the index to both volumes at the bottom of this review for your reference. The word “modern” in the title refers roughly to the post 1970 world.
Although referenced, the set does not stem directly from The Modern Corporation and Private Property by Adolf Berle and Gardiner Means. And of course, scholars continue to explore the consequences of this rift in books such as Citizens Continue Reading →
Recommended viewing this week is a discussion between TK Kerstetter, Chairman, NYSE Governance Services / Corporate Board Member and Scott Cutler, EVP, NYSE Euronext. Learn when directors most frequently get withhold votes. Shareholder communication is critical. To watch this one, you will need to go directly to This Week in the Boardroom.
Mark Latham came up with a brilliant idea in the late 1980s: Shareowners should use their corporation’s funds to pay for external evaluations of governance and performance of the board and management. Shareowners would vote to choose among competing organizations to provide this service.
It was a simple concept but SEC rules made subsequent proposals unnecessarily complex and excluded advice on director candidates, often among the most critical decisions on a proxy. Continue Reading →
TK Kerstetter, Chairman, NYSE Governance Services – Corporate Board Member interviews Scott Cutler, EVP, of NYSE Euronext. Continue Reading →
After finding some “off-beat” proposals made at Fortune 250 firms and posted to ProxyMonitor.org, Laura J. Finn thinks the following might be Five Coming Trends in Shareholder Proposals (Corporate Board Member, July 11, 2013). I provide a brief evaluation of each and add a couple of my own. Continue Reading →
Corporate Governance Presentation from the FDIC’s video series entitled the Virtual Directors’ College Program – This presentation reviews corporate governance principles that are vital to a director’s role in setting the direction of the bank. Continue Reading →
I urge readers to support the June 20th petition by the Council of Institutional Investors (CII) to the NYSE and Nasdaq for the exchanges to require listed companies to elect directors by majority vote in uncontested elections. CII’s letters to both exchanges are posted here. Continue Reading →
Time to Move Down the Food Chain With Proxy Proposals
How does director voting look so far this year? Eighty percent of directors up for election received over 90% shareholder support. And nine of ten received at least 80% support. Directors of large-cap companies had the highest rate of support, averaging 95% approval. Small cap and Micro-cap directors had the lowest affirmative rates, with 76% voting “for.” Only a very small number of individual directors (less than 2%) failed to receive majority shareholder support. (From ProxyPulse, a Broadridge PwC Initiative. Much more at the site.) Continue Reading →
Ken Olisa, former ENRC director, says companies claiming to adhere to the highest standards of corporate governance while in reality remaining under the control of the founding shareholders offend the basic precept of free markets — transparency. Continue Reading →
John Harrington, of Harrington Investments, will present his proposal on proxy access at the upcoming Bank of America (BAC) meeting on May 8th in Charlotte, North Carolina. It will be the first time language modified to provide a floor for retail nominators of at least 1/2% will be voted on.
That modification was made in an attempt to win over proxy advisors who were concerned the previous version could theoretically allow retail shareowners with as little as $100,000 in equity to nominate directors. Under the revised proposal, the minimum threshold for a nominating group under provision 1(a) at BAC is approximately $1.3B and under provision 1(b) is approximately $666M. Under either option, that is a substantial investment. Continue Reading →
The provision would eliminate Internal Revenue Code section 404(k), an incentive for ESOP creation and operation that permits a C corporation to deduct the value of dividends paid on ESOP stock passed through to employees in cash, deductions used to pay the ESOP acquisition loan, or when the employee reinvests in more company stock in his/her ESOP account balance. Continue Reading →
After a decade of frantic corporate governance reform, business leaders may believe that governance has reached the pinnacle of responsibility and effectiveness. Not so fast, says Nell Minow, one of America’s most respected governance observers. Corporate data disclosure can still be manipulated, boards can still be opaque or unaccountable to investors, and work is still needed on corporate pay setting and transparency. Continue Reading →
Climate Change Portfolio Exposure
Boston Common Asset Management has a proposal that will appear on the proxy of PNC Financial Services ($PNC) requesting that it report to shareowners on the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from its lending portfolio and its exposure to climate change risk in its lending, investing, and financing activities. Watch for your proxy. The annual meeting will be held on April 23, 2012. According to the proposal, Continue Reading →
I recently ran across a group of cute but informative videos from Brown Dog Consulting, located near Ottawa. I’m a sucker for simple line drawn cartoons. Susan Mogensen has a great ability to boil down the message to its essence. These are short quick takes, often focusing on a single principle. Here’s a hint of the type of client she’s after: Continue Reading →
Apple ($AAPL) is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their annual meeting is coming up on 2/27/2013. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of five funds when I checked on 2/19/2012. They listed the votes of six funds voting as of yesterday. I voted with management 46% of the time. View Proxy Statement. I voted, despite David Einhorn’s attempt to get an injunction to block the vote on “Proposal 2″ in Apple’s proxy statement, which would abolish a system for issuing preferred stock at its discretion, facilitate majority voting in director elections and establish a par value for the company’s common stock. Continue Reading →
This is the last in my series on the Corporate Directors Forum 2013. See materials, slideshow, Corporate 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 →
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, Corporate 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 →
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 →
(Reuters/PRNewswire) Southeastern Asset Management, Inc. the largest outside shareholder of Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: $DELL), today announced that it has sent a letter to the Board of Directors of Dell noting that it believes Dell’s proposed go-private transaction grossly undervalues the Company, and will not vote in favor of the transaction as currently structured. Southeastern intends to retain and avail itself of all options at its disposal to oppose the announced transaction, including, but not limited to a proxy fight, litigation claims and any available Delaware statutory appraisal rights. Southeastern beneficially owns on behalf of its investment advisor clients approximately 8.5% of Dell’s outstanding shares (including options). Southeastern filed the letter with the SEC in an SC 13D today. Continue Reading →
That’s how I would have titled this excellent book by Adam Epstein. Instead, look for The Perfect Corporate Board: A Handbook for Mastering the Unique Challenges of Small-Cap Companies. While it briefly touches on other topics, the key focus is plain in the following statement from the introduction: Continue Reading →
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 →