Posts Tagged ‘Glass Lewis’

Compensation Season 2014: Shareholder Engagement

Posted by Kobi Kastiel, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Friday December 20, 2013 at 10:11 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Michael J. Segal, partner in the Executive Compensation and Benefits Department of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, and is based on a Wachtell Lipton memorandum by Mr. Segal, Jeannemarie O’Brien, Adam J. Shapiro, Jeremy L. Goldstein, and David E. Kahan.

For many public companies, the new year marks the beginning of compensation season. As in years past, we have set forth below some of our thoughts on what to expect from the current compensation environment. Unlike previous years, the upcoming proxy season is not marked by new legislative or regulatory developments. And, as described in our memorandum of November 26, 2013, discussed previously on this Forum, here, the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) voting policies regarding compensation matters have remained largely unchanged. The most significant development this proxy season is the continuation of a single trend: increasing levels of shareholder engagement.

…continue reading: Compensation Season 2014: Shareholder Engagement

Boards Should Minimize the Role of Proxy Advisors

Posted by James Woolery, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, on Thursday October 31, 2013 at 9:15 am
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Editor’s Note: James Woolery is Deputy Chairman of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, Co-Chair of its Corporate Department and head of its Business Development Group. The following post is based on a Cadwalader publication by Louis J. Bevilacqua, Co-Chair of the firm’s Corporate Department and the head of its Mergers & Acquisitions and Securities Group.

The boards of public companies are increasingly being assessed by a hoard of short-term focused “activist” investors and an increasingly third-party-advised stockholder base that relies heavily on proxy advisory firms to make important voting decisions for them. It is estimated that over 75 percent of all shares of public companies are held in a managed fund or institutional account.

Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis control 97 percent of the market for proxy advice; and the two dominant proxy advisors reportedly affect 38 percent of votes cast at U.S. public company shareholder meetings. Their dominance in the proxy marketplace not only affects numerous votes but, more importantly, how companies manage and deal with their shareholders. Both firms wield enormous influence without having “skin in the game.” Perhaps even more concerning, given the influence they have on public companies, the proxy advisors (i) are understaffed and therefore establish generic voting recommendations and (ii) profit from engaging in activities involving material conflicts of interest, including marketing their advisory services to many of the same companies for which they provide proxy recommendations. In addition, Glass Lewis is owned by an activist fund with an agenda.

…continue reading: Boards Should Minimize the Role of Proxy Advisors

Shareholder Votes and Proxy Advisors: Evidence from Say on Pay

Posted by Fabrizio Ferri, Columbia University, on Thursday October 31, 2013 at 9:12 am
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Editor’s Note: Fabrizio Ferri is an Assistant Professor of Accounting at Columbia University. An earlier version of the empirical study mentioned in this post was previously discussed on the Forum here.

In our paper, Shareholder Votes and Proxy Advisors: Evidence from Say on Pay, which was recently accepted for publication at the Journal of Accounting Research, my co-authors (Yonca Ertimur of the University of Colorado at Boulder and David Oesch of the University of St. Gallen) and I examine the economic role of proxy advisors. As non-binding shareholder votes have come to increasingly affect firms’ governance practices, there has been growing interest in understanding the value of proxy advisors’ recommendations, a key driver of shareholder votes.

To shed light on this question, we follow the entire process surrounding proxy advisor activities and examine the analyses underlying proxy advisor recommendations, how firms, stock prices and voting shareholders respond to the release of these recommendations, firms’ reactions to the votes triggered by them and, ultimately, whether they have an impact on firm value. The setting we use for our examination is based on the analyses provided by the two most influential proxy advisors, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis & Co. (GL) to arrive at voting recommendations for the non-binding shareholder vote on executive pay mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010, commonly known as say-on-pay (SOP).

…continue reading: Shareholder Votes and Proxy Advisors: Evidence from Say on Pay

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

How to Address ISS & Glass Lewis Policy Changes

Posted by Holly Gregory, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, on Thursday January 17, 2013 at 9:08 am
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Editor’s Note: Holly J. Gregory is a corporate partner specializing in corporate governance at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. This post is based on a Weil alert by Ms. Gregory and Rebecca Grapsas; the full document, including footnotes and appendix, is available here.

Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (ISS) and Glass Lewis & Co. have each made several important revisions to their proxy voting policies for the 2013 proxy season. ISS released new and updated FAQs relating to application of ISS proxy voting policies to compensation (including peer groups and realizable pay), board responsiveness to shareholder proposals, hedging and pledging of company stock, and other matters. This post provides guidance to US companies on how to address these policy changes.

…continue reading: How to Address ISS & Glass Lewis Policy Changes

Corporate Governance Activism: Here To Stay?

Posted by Charles M. Nathan, Latham & Watkins LLP, on Thursday July 5, 2012 at 9:42 am
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Editor’s Note: Charles Nathan is of counsel at Latham & Watkins LLP and is co-chair of the firm’s Corporate Governance Task Force. This post is based on a Latham & Watkins Corporate Governance Commentary.

We have been observing the corporate governance movement in the United States for the past several years. Share voting decision makers at most institutional investors inhabit an alternate universe from investment decision makers. [1] Two incompatible economic and philosophical belief systems drive these alternate universes:

  • Investing professionals, overwhelmingly, are rationally apathetic about exercising the voting franchise embedded in stock ownership. [2] Absent a readily observable and positive correlation between exercise of the corporate franchise and creation of shareholder value (as is the case in most M&A votes and proxy contests), investing professionals view the task of making voting decisions on each ballot item for each of their portfolio companies as not merely time consuming and distracting but, worse, economically wasteful. [3]
  • On the other hand, notwithstanding the lack of a demonstrable connection between what is labeled good corporate governance and a positive increase in share valuation, corporate governance advocates continue to maintain that good corporate governance does, in the aggregate, enhance share values. [4] Accordingly, in their view, voting on all ballot issues at each and every portfolio company in order to achieve better corporate governance is a value creator. Starting from this core ideology, corporate governance advocates have successfully persuaded many national politicians, most regulators of the securities and investment industries and virtually all of the financial press, that its so-called corporate governance best practices are an essential requirement for shareholder value creation and that professional investment managers, as a matter of their fiduciary duty to their customers, should be required to vote all portfolio shares on all ballot matters.

…continue reading: Corporate Governance Activism: Here To Stay?

Say on Pay 2011: Proxy Advisors On Course for Hegemony

Posted by Charles M. Nathan, Latham & Watkins LLP, on Friday January 6, 2012 at 9:23 am
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Editor’s Note: Charles Nathan is Of Counsel at Latham & Watkins LLP and is co-chair of the firm’s Corporate Governance Task Force. This post discusses an article by Mr. Nathan, James D.C. Barrall, and Alice Chung that appeared in the New York Law Journal, available here.

My colleagues, Jim Barrall and Alice Chung, and I have co-authored an article titled Say on Pay 2011: Proxy Advisors on Course for Hegemony. The article analyzes the results of the first year of mandatory Say on Pay advisory votes and discusses the implications of these results for Say on Pay advisory voting during the 2012 proxy season. We begin by noting that based on the Say on Pay votes of a universe composed of the Russell 3000 companies that were subject to mandatory Say on Pay voting, recommendations by the two principal proxy advisory firms (ISS and Glass Lewis) appeared to have a significant effect, with a recommendation by ISS accounting, on average, for an approximately 25% vote swing, and one by Glass Lewis accounting, on average, for about a 5% vote swing. The data also indicates that companies receiving a negative SOP recommendation from ISS averaged less that a 70% favorable vote.

…continue reading: Say on Pay 2011: Proxy Advisors On Course for Hegemony

 
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