Tag Archives | proxy access

Apple Inc. (APPL): Proxy Score 83

appleApple Inc. $APPL, which designs, manufactures, and markets mobile communication and media devices, personal computers, and portable digital music players, is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their annual meeting is coming up on 3/10/2014. ProxyDemocracy.org had the votes of two funds when I checked and voted on 3/3/2015. (They now have more.) I voted with management 83% of the time and assigned them a proxy score of 83.

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

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Proxy Access: Keith Higgins Speaks on SEC’s (i)(9) Review

Broc Romanek

Broc Romanek, Editor of TheCorporateCounsel.net & CompensationStandards.com

Yesterday (2/10/2015), Corp Fin Director Keith Higgins delivered this interesting speech entitled “Rule 14a-8: Conflicting Proposals, Conflicting Views.” There are some really interesting things in this speech on counterproposals, etc., although there isn’t much that helps those companies grappling with proxy access shareholder proposals this proxy season (but there is some, such as #6 below). Here’s some notables from Keith’s speech: Continue Reading →

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Directors Forum 2015: Part 1

Directors Forum 2015 Opening Reception

Directors Forum 2015 Opening Reception

Disclaimer: I’m sharing a few notes from Directors Forum 2015 held at San Diego University beginning 2/25/2015 and ending 2/27/2015. The Forum was held under the Chatham House Rule, so you won’t read any juicy tidbits here. However, I do hope to give readers some flavor of the topics discussed and a little on the general range of opinions. I have take slight liberties with the rule with regard to individual featured speakers, giving some sense of their talks without revealing the specifics of cases raised or providing quoted material of any substance. My notes are sometimes cryptic. Sorry but my time is better spent on other activities.

Tom Ridge

Tom Ridge

Directors Forum 2015: Sunday

Thomas J. RidgeCEO, Ridge Global, LLC

The Honorable Tom Ridge is the CEO of Ridge Global, which helps businesses and governments address risk management issues. He was the first Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, another call to service for the former soldier, congressman and governor of Pennsylvania. Governor Ridge was the keynote speaker at the opening dinner. Continue Reading →

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CSP Inc. (CSPI): Proxy Score 89

CSPII am too busy to provide the usual analysis of the proxy at CSP Inc. (CSPI). Today is the last day to vote the CSPI proxy using the Internet. The most critical item on the CSPI proxy is my proposal to allow shareowners to nominate board members. Please vote in favor of proposal #5, proxy access.

Below is the text of the speech in favor of my proxy access proposal to be give at tomorrow’s annual CSPI meeting, followed by my voting recommendations:

Speaking in support of Proposal #5:

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Recommendations to SEC-IAC on Proxy Access

Proxy Access Road Building (photo by Erik Johansson)

Proxy Access Road Building (photo by Erik Johansson)

I’m delighted to see “Discussion of Proxy Access” (11:05-12:05 p.m.) as one of the items on the agenda for the SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee (SEC-IAC) at the upcoming February 12th meeting. I discuss two recommendations below. Take Action: Please submit your own and paste into comments below. See comments submitted.

Proxy Access: Rule 14a-11

In light of CFA Institute’s Proxy Access in the United States: Revisiting the Proposed SEC Rule with the following findings, it is time to revisit the SEC’s overturned Rule 14a-11. Continue Reading →

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SEC Withdraws No-Action: Rule 14a-8(i)(9) Suspended

Seal of SEC

The SEC has essentially suspended Rule 14a-8(i)(9) Conflicts with company’s proposal. Shareowners at Whole Foods Market and at many other companies have scored a huge victory.

Last Friday the SEC issued the following:

Statement from Chair White Directing Staff to Review Commission Rule for Excluding Conflicting Proxy Proposals

Chair Mary Jo White

Jan. 16, 2015 The Commission’s proxy rules enable shareholders to submit proposals for inclusion in a company’s proxy materials for a vote at a shareholder meeting, subject to certain procedural and substantive exclusions.  One of the exclusions, Exchange Act Rule 14a-8(i)(9), allows a company to exclude a shareholder proposal that “directly conflicts” with a management proposal.  Due to questions that have arisen about the proper scope and application of Rule 14a-8(i)(9), I have directed the staff to review the rule and report to the Commission on its review.

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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 →

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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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Appeal of No-Action on Proxy Access at Whole Foods Markets (WFM)

Whole Foods Market (WFM)The no-action letter to Whole Foods Market (Whole Foods), sanctioning exclusion of  my proxy access proposal is based on a reinterpretation of Rule 14a-8(i)(9) without going through the rulemaking process. Letting Whole Foods substitute a sham proxy access proposal could negatively impact dozens of  proposals submitted this year on proxy access and other topics.

Seal of SECThe case is similar to AFSCME vs AIG, where the SEC also reinterpreted an existing rule without going through the rulemaking process. When rules are changed, the public has a right to notice and input. Yesterday, I filed an appeal to the full Commission. The body of that appeal is posted below so that others can benefit from and supplement these arguments in future cases. Download the full appeal as a pdf (McRitchieAppealNo-action12-23-2014). Continue Reading →

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OECD’s Draft Updated Principles Support Proxy Access

OECDThe OECD is inviting public comment on its draft updated Principles of Corporate Governance – last updated in 2004. These principles (first published in 1999) have long been among the most influential sources of corporate governance guidelines for regulators, stock exchanges, investors and companies world-wide, and continue to be referenced as a benchmark for good governance practices.

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Reed’s, Inc. (REED) – Proxy Score 43

Reed'sReed’s, Inc. (REED), which develops, manufactures, markets, and sells natural non-alcoholic carbonated soft drinks, kombucha, candies, and ice creams, is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their annual meeting is coming up on 12/12/2014. Reed’s is still too small to be covered by ProxyDemocracy.org.  I voted with management 43% of the time and assigned them a proxy score of 43.

View Proxy Statement. Read Warnings below. What follows are my recommendations on how to vote the Reed’s, Inc. 2014 proxy in order to enhance corporate governance and long-term value. Continue Reading →

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Road to Proxy Access Altered Again

Road to Proxy Access (Photo by Erik Johansson)

Road to Proxy Access (Photo by Erik Johansson)

… If the stockholder is to regard himself as a continuing part-owner of the business in which he has placed his money, he must be ready at times to act like a true owner and to make the decisions associated with ownership. If he wants his interests fully protected he must be willing to do something of his own to protect them. This requires a moderate amount of initiative and judgment.  – Benjamin Graham and David Dodd, Securities Valuation, 1934

The most fundamental means for shareholders to act like true owners is to help decide who will represent their interests on the board of directors. It is not so much independent directors that shareowners want, but directors who are dependent on our vote – accountable to us, not to the corporate managers they oversee on our behalf.  Obtaining the right to proxy access has been a long and perilous road.

On December 1, 2014, SEC staff effectively cut the road, giving a free pass to every group of entrenched board members and managers that seeks to prevent proxy access and direct accountability to shareowners.  Continue Reading →

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Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) – Proxy Score 62

MicrosoftMicrosoft Corporation ($MSFT), which develops, licenses, markets, and supports software, services, and devices worldwide, is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their annual meeting is coming up on 12/3/2014. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of six funds when I checked and voted on 11/30/2014. Sorry for the late post. Tomorrow is the last day to vote online. I voted with management 62% of the time and assigned them a proxy score of 62.

View Proxy Statement. Read Warnings below. What follows are my recommendations on how to vote the Microsoft 2014 proxy in order to enhance corporate governance and long-term value. Continue Reading →

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