Posts Tagged ‘Gillian McPhee’

Advance Notice Bylaws: Trends and Challenges

Editor’s Note: Eduardo Gallardo is a partner focusing on mergers and acquisitions at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. This post is based on a Gibson Dunn client alert by Mr. Gallardo, James Hallowell, Elizabeth Ising, Gillian McPhee, and Stephenie Gosnell Handler.

Shareholder activism continues to dominate the corporate landscape and attract daily headlines in the financial press. And, as the pace of activism accelerates in 2015, a number of legal battles over the last two years between companies and activists has put in the spotlight the permissible scope and function of advance notice bylaws—a term that we broadly define for these purposes to cover bylaw provisions establishing timing, procedural and informational requirements for shareholders seeking to present director nominations and other business proposals to a shareholder vote. [1]

A typical advance notice bylaw requires that shareholders submit to the corporate secretary notice of all director nominations and business to be put to a vote at an annual meeting within a thirty-day window that opens and closes on specified deadlines preceding the anniversary date of the prior year’s annual meeting date (or, less common, related proxy statement). Such a notice often must be accompanied by information about the nominee or business, and the proposing shareholder. This information is generally intended to enhance the board’s ability to advise shareholders regarding the nominee or proposal, as well as potential sources of conflict between the proponent and other shareholders.

…continue reading: Advance Notice Bylaws: Trends and Challenges

Considerations for Directors in the 2014 Proxy Season and Beyond

Posted by Amy L. Goodman, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, and John F. Olson, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and Georgetown Law Center, on Monday January 27, 2014 at 9:19 am
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Editor’s Note: Amy Goodman is a partner and co-chair of the Securities Regulation and Corporate Governance practice group at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and John Olson is a founding partner of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Washington, D.C. office and a visiting professor at the Georgetown Law Center. The following post is based on a Gibson Dunn alert by Ms. Goodman, Mr. Olson, Gillian McPhee, and Michael J. Scanlon.

As we begin 2014, calendar-year companies are immersed in preparing for what promises to be another busy proxy season. We continue to see shareholder proposals on many of the same subjects addressed during last proxy season, as discussed in our post recapping shareholder proposal developments in 2013. To help public companies and their boards of directors prepare for the coming year’s annual meeting and plan ahead for other corporate governance developments in 2014, we discuss below several key topics to consider.

…continue reading: Considerations for Directors in the 2014 Proxy Season and Beyond

Shareholder Proposal Developments During the 2013 Proxy Season

Editor’s Note: Amy Goodman is a partner and co-chair of the Securities Regulation and Corporate Governance practice group at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. The following post is based on a Gibson Dunn alert by Ms. Goodman, Gregory S. Belliston, Elizabeth A. Ising, Gillian McPhee, and Ronald O. Mueller.

Shareholder proposals continued to attract significant attention during the 2013 proxy season. This post provides an overview of shareholder proposals submitted to public companies during the 2013 proxy season, including statistics, notable decisions from the staff (the “Staff”) of the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) on no-action requests [1] and other Staff guidance, majority votes on shareholder proposals and litigation seeking to exclude shareholder proposals.

1. Shareholder Proposal Statistics and Voting Results

According to data from Institutional Shareholder Services (“ISS”), shareholders submitted approximately 820 proposals to date for 2013 shareholder meetings, up from approximately 739 proposals submitted for 2012 shareholder meetings. [2] The most common 2013 shareholder proposal topics, along with the approximate number of proposals submitted, were:

…continue reading: Shareholder Proposal Developments During the 2013 Proxy Season

ISS, Glass Lewis, and the 2013 Proxy Season

Posted by John F. Olson, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and Georgetown Law Center, on Monday February 11, 2013 at 9:20 am
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Editor’s Note: John F. Olson is a founding partner of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Washington, D.C. office and a visiting professor at the Georgetown Law Center. The following post is based on a Gibson Dunn alert by Amy Goodman, Elizabeth Ising, Sean Feller, Gillian McPhee, Allison Balick and Kasey Levit Robinson.

Institutional Shareholder Services (“ISS”) and Glass, Lewis & Co., Inc. (“Glass Lewis”), the two major proxy advisory firms, recently released updates to their proxy voting policies for the 2013 proxy season. The ISS U.S. Corporate Governance Policy 2013 Updates (the “ISS Policy Updates”), which are available at http://issgovernance.com/policy/2013/policy_information, apply to shareholder meetings held on or after February 1, 2013. ISS also has released updated Frequently Asked Questions (the “ISS FAQs”), available at the link above, relating to its 2013 policies. The Glass Lewis Proxy Paper Guidelines for the 2013 Proxy Season (the “Glass Lewis Guidelines”) will be effective for annual meetings held on or after January 1, 2013. A summary of the updates to the Glass Lewis Guidelines is available here. This alert reviews the most significant ISS and Glass Lewis updates and suggested steps for companies to consider in light of these updated proxy voting policies.

…continue reading: ISS, Glass Lewis, and the 2013 Proxy Season

Key Year-End Considerations for Public Companies

Posted by John F. Olson, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and Georgetown Law Center, on Friday November 23, 2012 at 12:09 pm
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Editor’s Note: John Olson is a founding partner of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Washington, D.C. office and a visiting professor at the Georgetown Law Center. This post is based on a Gibson Dunn alert by Amy Goodman, Elizabeth A. Ising, Gillian McPhee and Ronald O. Mueller.

With the arrival of fall, calendar-year companies are gearing up for what promises to be another busy proxy season, preparing for new rules that will impact their disclosures and governance practices, and planning their 2013 board and committee calendars. To assist public companies in these endeavors, we discuss below ten key items for corporate secretaries and in-house counsel to consider.

…continue reading: Key Year-End Considerations for Public Companies

PCAOB Adopts New Audit Standard on Communications with Audit Committees

Posted by John F. Olson, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and Georgetown Law Center, on Monday September 3, 2012 at 9:37 am
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Editor’s Note: John Olson is a founding partner of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Washington, D.C. office and a visiting professor at the Georgetown Law Center. This post is based on a Gibson Dunn alert by Gillian McPhee and Michael Scanlon.

At an open meeting held on August 15, 2012, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (“PCAOB”) voted to approve new Auditing Standard No. 16, Communications with Audit Committees. Although the new standard retains most of the preexisting communication requirements, there are a number of new areas that the auditor must discuss with the audit committee, and there are some areas where the auditor must seek specific responses from the audit committee. The new standard, available at http://pcaobus.org/Rules/Rulemaking/Docket030/Release_2012-004.pdf, is intended to benefit investors by enhancing the relevance and quality of communications between the auditor and audit committee, facilitating audit committee oversight of financial reporting and fostering improved financial reporting.

Background and Effective Dates

The PCAOB initially proposed Auditing Standard No. 16 for comment in March 2010 and issued a revised proposal in December 2011 following an initial comment period and feedback received at a September 2010 roundtable. Auditing Standard No. 16 expands on and supersedes existing standards on communications with audit committees (interim standards AU sec. 380, Communication With Audit Committees, and AU sec. 310, Appointment of the Independent Auditor), and makes conforming changes to related standards. The new standard requires SEC approval and, if approved, will apply to audits of public company financial statements for fiscal years beginning on or after December 15, 2012.

Auditing Standard No. 16 is the first standard that the PCAOB has adopted following enactment of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 (the “JOBS Act”). Under the JOBS Act, a new PCAOB standard will not apply to audits of “emerging growth companies” (“EGCs”) unless the SEC determines that the application of the standard is “necessary or appropriate in the public interest, after considering the protection of investors and whether the action will promote efficiency, competition, and capital formation.” At its August 15 meeting, the PCAOB expressed its view that the SEC should approve the application of the new standard to EGCs.

…continue reading: PCAOB Adopts New Audit Standard on Communications with Audit Committees

Considerations for Directors in the 2010 Proxy Season

Posted by John F. Olson, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and Georgetown Law Center, on Tuesday February 23, 2010 at 9:16 am
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Editor’s Note: John Olson is a founding partner of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Washington, D.C. office and a visiting professor at the Georgetown Law Center. This post is based on a Gibson Dunn alert by Mr. Olson, Amy Goodman, Elizabeth Ising, Gillian McPhee and Aaron Briggs.

The current economic and regulatory landscape poses unprecedented challenges for public companies and their boards of directors. They are facing scrutiny from shareholders, Congress, regulators and the public, and new proposals to address the causes of the financial crisis have been emerging on almost a daily basis for over a year now.

Some of these proposals have been adopted and some remain under consideration at a time when calendar-year companies are preparing for the 2010 proxy season, complicating the planning process. Of particular note, in December, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) adopted new proxy disclosure rules that likely will be a focal point for public company directors, as the new rules relate to disclosures regarding the composition and operation of boards of directors. [1] This memorandum is an update of our client alert covering considerations for public company directors in the current environment issued on October 15, 2009.

…continue reading: Considerations for Directors in the 2010 Proxy Season

SEC Adopts Final Rules on Enhanced Proxy Statement Disclosures

Posted by Eduardo Gallardo, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, on Monday December 21, 2009 at 9:45 am
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Editor’s Note: Eduardo Gallardo is a partner focusing on mergers and acquisitions at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. This post is based on a Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher client memorandum by Ron Mueller, Amy Goodman, Gillian McPhee, Dina Bernstein, and Anthony Shoemaker.

At an open meeting held on December 16, 2009, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) approved a set of proposed rules to enhance the information provided to shareholders in company proxy statements regarding a number of risk oversight, compensation, board leadership and composition and other corporate governance matters.  The SEC approved the final rules by a 4-to-1 vote, with Commissioner Kathleen Casey dissenting.  The SEC released the text of the final rules on the same date they were adopted, with the 129 page adopting release available here.

The new rules have an effective date of February 28, 2010, except that a rule change on how equity awards are reported in the Summary Compensation Table applies to all companies with fiscal years ending after December 20, 2009.  Because all of the rule changes other than the equity reporting rule call for enhanced disclosures, companies presumably could, but would not be required to, voluntarily comply with all of the new rules even if they file their definitive proxy statements before February 28, 2010.

…continue reading: SEC Adopts Final Rules on Enhanced Proxy Statement Disclosures

SEC Approves Amendments to NYSE Corporate Governance Listing Standards

Posted by John F. Olson, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and Georgetown Law Center, on Saturday December 19, 2009 at 10:05 am
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Editor’s Note: John Olson is a founding partner of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and a visiting professor at the Georgetown Law Center. The following post is based on a Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher client memorandum by Mr. Olson, Brian J. Lane, Ronald O. Mueller, Amy L. Goodman, Gillian McPhee, and Elizabeth Ising.

On November 25, 2009, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) approved amendments to the corporate governance listing standards of the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”). The changes will take effect on January 1, 2010.

As discussed in more detail below, the amendments, which the SEC approved in the form proposed in the NYSE’s original release: (1) codify certain staff interpretations, (2) clarify various disclosure requirements, and (3) incorporate applicable SEC disclosure requirements into the NYSE listing standards. Because most of the amendments conform the NYSE listing standards to existing SEC rules, or are of a clarifying or updating nature, they should necessitate only minimal changes to a listed company’s governance practices and disclosures. The most significant change is the new requirement that companies notify the NYSE in writing after any executive officer becomes aware of “any” non-compliance with the corporate governance listing standards, rather than any “material” non-compliance, as currently required.

The SEC release approving the NYSE amendments can be found here. The NYSE filing outlining the proposed amendments includes a mark-up showing the proposed changes to the text of the corporate governance listing standards.

…continue reading: SEC Approves Amendments to NYSE Corporate Governance Listing Standards

Considerations for Public Company Directors in the Current Environment

Posted by Eduardo Gallardo, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, on Thursday October 22, 2009 at 9:02 am
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(Editor’s Note: This post is based on a Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP memorandum by Amy Goodman and Gillian McPhee.)

The current economic and regulatory landscape poses unprecedented challenges for public companies and their boards of directors.  They are facing scrutiny from shareholders, Congress, regulators and the public, and new proposals to address the causes of the financial crisis have been emerging on almost a daily basis for over a year now.

Many of these proposals remain under consideration at a time when calendar-year companies are beginning preparations for the 2010 proxy season, complicating the planning process.  The uncertainty of the current environment means that, with respect to many issues–such as the SEC’s proxy access proposals–companies and their boards find themselves in a “wait and see” mode.  Directors should remain informed during this time as new developments occur, and they should be prepared to respond at an accelerated pace.  To assist boards in addressing the potential changes that lie ahead, this memorandum outlines key issues for directors to consider over the coming months.

1.  Executive Summary

As discussed in more detail below, as boards prepare for the potential changes that lie ahead, there are a number of key areas to consider.  These include:

a. Director Elections.  Boards and companies should take a holistic approach to the director election process, considering the potential impact that the loss of broker discretionary votes will have on director elections at the upcoming annual meeting, as well as the effect of majority voting, “notice and access” (also known as “e-proxy”), and expected voting recommendations of the major proxy advisory firms.

b. Executive Compensation Practices and Disclosures.  Boards and compensation committees should evaluate their companies’ compensation practices and policies in light of the current environment, including the strong possibility of federal legislation requiring an advisory vote on executive compensation, or “say on pay.”  For the 2010 proxy season, new required disclosures are anticipated relating to the risks created by employee compensation plans and the use of compensation consultants.  In view of these considerations, companies should assess their compensation disclosures, with particular focus on the Compensation Discussion & Analysis.  In addition, boards and compensation committees should be aware of executive compensation practices that institutional investors and proxy advisory firms frown upon (such as tax gross-ups) and those that they advocate, such as “hold-through-retirement” provisions and “clawback” policies.

c. Board Leadership.  Boards and companies should expect a continued spotlight on the issue of board leadership in the coming months.  In anticipation of new required proxy disclosures about board leadership structure, boards should consider why their current leadership structure is appropriate.  At companies that combine the positions of chair and CEO, consideration should be given to what, if any, steps should be taken to enhance the independent leadership of the board.  In addition, the board should consider this issue as part of the succession planning process.

d. Risk Oversight.  Boards and companies should consider whether the board has the appropriate structure and processes in place for overseeing the major risks facing the company.  The board should be comfortable that it understands these risks and how the risks relate to the company’s business and strategy.  Boards, and those who advise them, should think carefully about how the board is spending its time and see that the board has adequate time to address critical issues such as strategy and risk.
e. Shareholder Engagement.  Boards should be attentive to what their companies are doing to engage shareholders and recognize that, more than in the past, directors may need to play a greater role in reaching out to shareholders.  Initiating a dialogue before a major issue arises helps build a relationship so that the company is not approaching a major shareholder for the first time to talk about a critical subject.

f. Shareholder Proposals for the 2010 Proxy Season.  For the 2010 proxy season, we expect that shareholder proposals seeking the appointment of an independent chair and proposals seeking an advisory vote on executive compensation will continue to be popular.  In addition, executive compensation in general is likely to be a frequent subject of shareholder proposals.  Finally, shareholders’ ability to call special meetings and supermajority voting provisions also are likely to be focal points in the next proxy season.

…continue reading: Considerations for Public Company Directors in the Current Environment

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