ISS recently issued updated guidelines for several of its benchmark global voting policies, which will be effective for analyses of publicly traded companies with shareholder meetings on or after Feb. 1, 2015. For the 10th year running, ISS gathered broad input from institutional investors, corporate issuers, and other market constituents worldwide as a key part of its policy development process. The 2015 updates reflect the time and effort of hundreds of investors, issuers, corporate directors, and other market participants who provided input through a variety of channels, including ISS’ annual policy survey, topical and regional roundtables, and direct engagements with staff.
Posts Tagged ‘Canada’
On May 2, 2014, the British Columbia Securities Commission (the “BCSC”) determined to allow the shareholder rights plan of Augusta Resource Corporation (“Augusta”) to remain in effect for at least 156 days after the announcement of the unsolicited offer by HudBay Minerals Inc. (“HudBay”) to acquire the shares of Augusta. The BCSC order was issued at a hearing held shortly after the continuance of the rights plan was approved by the shareholders of Augusta.
On April 2, 2014, Osisko Mining Corporation announced a superior alternative to Goldcorp Inc.’s unsolicited offer for Osisko in the form of a partnership with Yamana Gold Inc. resulting in Osisko’s shareholders receiving cash and share consideration with an implied value representing a 22% premium to Goldcorp’s offer. This transaction was announced 79 days after Goldcorp announced its intention to launch its unsolicited offer.
Thursday February 13, 2014 was an important day for shareholder democracy in Canada. We know that athletes train many years in order to reach the Olympics, but the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance (CCGG) also has worked publicly and behind the scenes for many years to bring majority voting to Canada. Finally, last week the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) agreed to adopt a listing requirement effective June 30, 2014 pursuant to which TSX listed companies (other than those which are majority controlled) must adopt a majority voting policy which requires each director of a TSX listed issuer to be elected by a majority of the votes cast with respect to his or her election other than at contested meetings.
This third annual edition of Governance Insights presents Davies’ analysis of the corporate governance practices of Canadian public companies over the course of 2013 and the trends and issues that influenced and shaped them.
We expect 2014 to be an active year for governance themes with greater calls for diversity on boards, a growing shareholder voice on “say on pay” resolutions, and further regulatory initiatives around proxy voting and the regulation of proxy advisory firms. We also anticipate continued discussion on shareholder activism and scrutiny of the tools and strategies used by issuers and shareholders.
While the number of women directors on U.S. public company boards has not risen dramatically since 2012, the issue of gender diversity on boards continued to gain momentum and global prominence over the last 12 months. Since we last discussed this issue, new legislative and non-governmental initiatives around the world have resulted in growing numbers of women directors and greater shareholder focus on board diversity and related disclosures. This issue is likely to become increasingly significant in 2014 and beyond, both in the United States and abroad.
Earlier this month, the European Commission moved a step closer to imposing a form of gender quota on major public companies in the European Union. Two committees of the European Parliament voted in favor of a proposal by the European Commission to require certain public companies to increase the representation of women on their boards. The proposed law applies only to large public companies, with no exceptions even for companies in which women compose less than 10 percent of the workforce, and, if adopted, provides for obligatory sanctions for failure to follow the proposed requirements.
The Managed Funds Association (“MFA”) and the Alternative Investment Management Association (“AIMA”) and have jointly submitted a comment letter with the Canadian Securities Administrators with respect to proposed changes to Canada’s block shareholder reporting regimes known in Canada as the Early Warning Reporting (“EWR”) system and the Alternative Monthly Reporting (“AMR”) system. The EWR and AMR systems are the Canadian equivalents to Schedule 13(d) and 13(g) disclosure in the United States.
The comment letter provides an extensive discussion of the importance of shareholder engagement and activist investing and the consequential benefits from such activity that accrue to all shareholders, as well as to target companies and the economy more generally. The letter submits that the CSA’s proposed tightening of Canada’s block shareholder reporting rules will stifle shareholder engagement and democracy and insulate incumbent managers from owners. The full text of the MFA and AIMA comment letter is available here: http://www.osc.gov.on.ca/documents/en/Securities-Category6-Comments/com_20130712_62-104_kaswellsj.pdf.
The changes to the EWR and AMRS regimes proposed by the CSA include:
As society increasingly faces governance challenges at all levels, there is a growing recognition of the need to take a longer term and more systemic view. Given the overwhelming incentives for myopic leadership (and action), our common law system—where courts respond to specific fact situations—may play a critical role. One avenue is likely through the concept of fiduciary duty—the legal obligation to act in the best interests of others.
The Supreme Court of Canada has been at the leading edge in developing a coherent view of the nature of fiduciary relationships and their consequences (largely through its recognition of a new class of fiduciary relationship between the Crown and Aboriginal peoples). The logic has permeated more broadly, with the Court focusing on the high degree of specialization and interdependence in society—where we increasingly rely on the services and expertise of strangers. This rise of “fiduciary society” is a classic non-zero-sum game, where we can all benefit but, if trust is eroded, the game fails (and everyone loses). Hence it is that values of trust and loyalty, shaped by “reasonable expectations”, have come to form the basis for the court’s broad standards.
This blog has repeatedly reported on the use of empty voting strategies at the Canadian telecommunications provider Telus Corporation. (see, e.g., here and here). Empty voting – that is, the strategic separation of economic risk from voting rights – has been considered by courts, regulators and academics over the past years in various forms. The latest account is the case of Canadian telecommunications company Telus, which became the target of US hedge fund Mason Capital. After a lengthy battle in various courtrooms, the dust has settled around this conflict. The Telus saga sheds new light on how empty voting structures are used by businesses in practice and supports calls for regulatory activity. In my recent paper, Empty Voting Revisited: The Telus Saga, I analyze the various instances of this important legal battle and develop regulatory implications.
About a year ago, we published A New Playbook for Global Securities Litigation and Regulation, in which we detailed dramatic changes in the global securities regulatory and litigation arena driven by various factors, including not only the financial crisis of 2007-2008, but also changes in tolerance in the United States to litigation brought by foreign investors against public companies listed on non-U.S. exchanges.
One year later, the regulatory environment continues to revamp with new rules being issued constantly in the United States to conform to the legislative mandates set forth in the Dodd Frank Act. The United Kingdom and European Union also seek to reinforce previous global initiatives to reform and strengthen the Pan-European financial markets.
What is more ever-present, however, is the marked increase in global enforcement activities by regulators in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the European Union, which are attempts to give teeth to the global financial reforms each jurisdiction felt necessary to potentially prevent a “repeat” of the financial crisis. This article seeks to address the increase in global securities enforcement activity and concludes that continued cooperation and coordination in enforcement activities will be required to seamlessly address the desire to strengthen global regulatory initiatives aimed at harmonizing and centralizing international securities regulation to create safer, more fundamentally sound financial markets for investors.