With John Chevedden‘s help, I recently submitted shareowner proposals to United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) and The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (HAIN). Both have asked the SEC for no-action letters [UNFI (UNFI no-action 8-15-2014 pdf) and HAIN] because they plan to introduce their own proposals on the same subjects. The SEC is likely to grant both requests. Shouldn’t such actions be counted as ‘gadfly’ wins by pundits like the Deal Professor? More importantly, should the SEC grant such no-action requests? Continue Reading →
Tag Archives | SEC
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 →
This is the second of a two part series. Part I discussed proxy voting at Savings Plus, as compared with at CalPERS.
CalHR’s Current RFP for Savings Plus
CalHR recently released a Request for Proposal (RFP 700-14-01) seeking bids for investment management services for Savings Plus. Unfortunately, the RFP fails to require Savings Plus participants be informed of proxy voting policies or decisions. Continue Reading →
Most California State employees and retirees have their retirement funds invested largely through two vehicles. CalPERS is the nation’s largest public pension, with almost $300B in assets. Many employees also have smaller amounts invested in CalHR‘s Savings Plus program, with assets of $10B. Both vehicles invest a large proportion of their funds in corporate stock, which carries voting power that can not only impact the value of the companies and potentially our retirement income but also the quality of our environment and our political framework.
Over the course of several decades the Department Labor and the SEC have ruled that proxy voting rights are assets. Fiduciaries of funds, such as CalPERS and Savings Plus, must ensure the underlying shares are voted for the benefit of the employees and retires whose funds they hold in trust. Continue Reading →
The SEC this week weighed into the proxy advisor debate with Staff Legal Bulletin 20, which provides information on the proxy voting responsibilities of investment advisers (i.e. professional investors) as well as clarification on the exemptions from federal regulation which apply to proxy advisory firms. Continue Reading →
On June 30th, the Securities and Exchange Commission released some long-awaited guidance on the procedures that advisers should follow in retaining proxy advisory firms and clarifies the responsibilities for both investment advisers and proxy advisory firms. Here is our initial response for a more detailed response please read our white paper. Continue Reading →
I thought this recent correspondence was noteworthy. I’m so happy CII exists. I wish there were a similar organization representing the interests of retail shareowners. Most footnotes are removed and the letter is slightly edited for formatting. Original.
Via Hand Delivery May 22, 2014
Keith F. Higgins
Director Continue Reading →
In a speech to the 26th Annual Corporate Law Institute held at Tulane University Law School on Federal Preemption of State Corporate Governance, SEC commissioner Daniel Gallagher delivered a scathing attack on small investors and proposed radical steps to severely limit democracy in corporate governance.
Gallagher opened his attack by stating,
Activist investors and corporate gadflies have used these loose rules to hijack the shareholder proposal system. Continue Reading →
It is wonderful to have supportive friends, especially when they represent socially responsible investors and advisors. John Chevedden, Myra K. Young and James McRitchie extend sincere thanks to the following for sending letters of concern regarding their recent lawsuits against us to: EMC Corp, Omnicom, Express Scripts, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.: Continue Reading →
In a memorandum and order issued yesterday, Judge Louis L. Stanton, of United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, ruled John Chevedden’s motion to dismiss is granted. Omnicom’s motion for summary judgment is denied. “The clerk is requested to enter judgment dismissing the complaint, with costs and disbursements in favor of Mr. Chevedden according to law.” Continue Reading →
The Dodd-Frank act created a new permanent Investor Advisory Committee (SEC-IAC) to consult with and advise the SEC on matters, such as making recommendations to Congress for legislative changes on the regulation of securities products, trading strategies and fee structures, the effectiveness of disclosures, and other investor protection initiatives. The IAC is comprised of the head of a newly created Office of the Investor Advocate, a representative of senior citizens, a representative of state securities commissions, and 10 to 20 representatives of individual and institutional investors appointed by the SEC. Almost two years after establishing the new SEC-IAC, Rick A. Fleming has been named as the first head of the agency’s Office of the Investor Advocate (OIA). Continue Reading →
I was delighted to see the influential trade publication, Pensions&Investments, endorse a petition to the SEC sent by the Council of Institutional Investors to amend its rules to allow a complete list of board candidates to be included in corporate proxies. (Better Way to Elect Directors, 2/3/2014: subscribe) Continue Reading →