Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Neff’

Risk Management and the Board of Directors—An Update for 2014

Editor’s Note: Martin Lipton is a founding partner of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, specializing in mergers and acquisitions and matters affecting corporate policy and strategy. This post is based on a Wachtell Lipton memorandum by Mr. Lipton, Daniel A. Neff, Andrew R. Brownstein, Steven A. Rosenblum, and Adam O. Emmerich.

Introduction

Overview

Corporate risk taking and the monitoring of risks have remained front and center in the minds of boards of directors, legislators and the media, fueled by the powerful mix of continuing worldwide financial instability; ever-increasing regulation; anger and resentment at the alleged power of business and financial executives and boards, including particularly as to compensation during a time of economic uncertainty, retrenchment, contraction, and changing dynamics between U.S., European and emerging market economies; and consistent media attention to corporations and economies in crisis. The reputational damage to boards of companies that fail to properly manage risk is a major threat, and Institutional Shareholder Services now includes specific reference to risk oversight as part of its criteria for choosing when to recommend withhold votes in uncontested director elections. This focus on the board’s role in risk management has also led to increased public and governmental scrutiny of compensation arrangements and their relationship to excessive risk taking and has brought added emphasis to the relationship between executive compensation and effective risk management. For the past few years, we have provided an annual overview of risk management and the board of directors. This overview highlights a number of issues that have remained critical over the years and provides an update to reflect emerging and recent developments.

…continue reading: Risk Management and the Board of Directors—An Update for 2014

Harvard’s Shareholder Rights Project is Still Wrong

Posted by Martin Lipton and Daniel Neff, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, on Friday November 30, 2012 at 8:55 am
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Editor’s Note: Martin Lipton is a founding partner of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, specializing in mergers and acquisitions and matters affecting corporate policy and strategy. Daniel A. Neff is co-chairman of the Executive Committee and partner at Wachtell Lipton. This post is based on a Wachtell Lipton memorandum by Mr. Lipton, Mr. Neff, Andrew R. Brownstein, Adam O. Emmerich, David A. Katz, and Trevor S. Norwitz. This post discusses the 2012/2013 activities of the Shareholder Rights Project, which are described in an earlier post here.

A small but influential alliance of activist investor groups, academics and trade unions continues — successfully it must be said — to seek to overhaul corporate governance in America to suit their particular agendas and predilections. We believe that this exercise in corporate deconstruction is detrimental to the economy and society at large. We continue to oppose it.

The Shareholder Rights Project, Harvard Law School’s misguided “clinical program” which we have previously criticized, today issued joint press releases with eight institutional investors, principally state and municipal pension funds, trumpeting their recent successes in eliminating staggered boards and advertising their “hit list” of 74 more companies to be targeted in the upcoming proxy season. Coupled with the new ISS standard for punishing directors who do not immediately accede to shareholder proposals garnering a majority of votes cast (even if they do not attract enough support to be passed) — which we also recently criticized — this is designed to accelerate the extinction of the staggered board.

…continue reading: Harvard’s Shareholder Rights Project is Still Wrong

Harvard’s Shareholder Rights Project is Wrong

Posted by Martin Lipton and Theodore Mirvis, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, on Friday March 23, 2012 at 10:38 am
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Editor’s Note: Martin Lipton is a founding partner of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, specializing in mergers and acquisitions and matters affecting corporate policy and strategy. Theodore Mirvis is a partner in the Litigation Department at Wachtell Lipton. This post is based on a Wachtell Lipton memorandum by Mr. Lipton, Mr. Mirvis, Daniel A. Neff, and David A. Katz. This post discusses the 2011/2012 activities of the Harvard Law School Shareholder Rights Project, which are described in an earlier post here.

The Harvard Law School Shareholders Rights Project (SRP) recently issued joint press releases with five institutional investors, principally state and municipal pension funds, trumpeting SRP’s representation of and advice to these investors during the 2012 proxy season in submitting proposals to more than 80 S&P 500 companies with staggered boards, urging that their boards be declassified. The SRP’s “News Alert” issued concurrently reported that 42 of the companies targeted had agreed to include management proposals in their proxy statements to declassify their boards – which reportedly represented one-third of all S&P 500 companies with staggered boards. The SRP statement “commended” those companies for what it called “their responsiveness to shareholder concerns.”

This is wrong. According to the Harvard Law School online catalog, the SRP is “a newly established clinical program” that “will provide students with the opportunity to obtain hands-on experience with shareholder rights work by assisting public pension funds in improving governance arrangements at publicly traded firms.” Students receive law school credits for involvement in the SRP. The SRP’s instructors are two members of the Law School faculty, one of whom (Professor Lucian Bebchuk) has been outspoken in pressing one point of view in the larger corporate governance debate. The SRP’s “Template Board Declassification Proposal” cites two of Professor Bebchuk’s writings, among others, in making the claim that staggered boards “could be associated with lower firm valuation and/or worse corporate decision-making.”

…continue reading: Harvard’s Shareholder Rights Project is Wrong

Risk Management and the Board of Directors

Posted by Martin Lipton, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, on Thursday December 17, 2009 at 9:33 am
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Editor’s Note: Martin Lipton, is a founding partner of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, specializing in mergers and acquisition and matters affecting corporate policy and strategy. This post is based on a Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz client memorandum by Mr. Lipton, Daniel A. Neff, Andrew R. Brownstein, Steven A. Rosenblum, Adam O. Emmerich, Sabastian V. Niles, and Brian M. Walker, excluding Appendix A, which describes areas of risk. The complete memorandum, including the Appendix, is available here.

Balancing risk and reward has never been more challenging than it is today. Companies face risks that are more complex, interconnected and potentially devastating than ever before. Over the past two years, a perfect storm of economic conditions has triggered an extraordinary downward spiral from which we are only recently beginning to emerge: the subprime meltdown, liquidity crises, extreme market volatility, controversial government bailouts, consolidations of major banking institutions and widespread economic turmoil both in the U.S. and around the world. Against the background of the global financial crisis and the still uncertain global economy, companies are re-assessing their strategies for responding to the challenges and pressures of the new environment. Risk—and in particular the risk oversight function of the board of directors—has taken center stage in this re-assessment, and expectations for board engagement with risk are at all-time highs. Risk from the financial services sector has contributed to large-scale bankruptcies, bank failures, government intervention and rapid consolidation. And the repercussions have spread to the broader economy, as companies in nearly every industry have suffered from the effects of a global constriction of the credit markets, sharply reduced consumer demand and volatile commodity prices, currencies and stock prices.

…continue reading: Risk Management and the Board of Directors

 
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