The following post comes to us from Sean Di Somma
, Senior Vice President for shareholder communication services at Alliance Advisors LLC, and is based on an Alliance Advisors whitepaper by Shirley Westcott
. The full text, including footnotes, is available here
The 2013 annual meeting season may lack the drama of last year’s Occupy protests and impending presidential election but it will still have its share of challenges for issuers. Revisions to proxy advisors’ pay models and peer groups are already spawning another round of supplemental proxies on Say-on-Pay (SOP), while threats of compensation disclosure strike suits have become this year’s unwelcome sideshow.
This spring also promises another big wave of shareholder resolutions, with over 600 filed to date, though for the most part they will repeat the prevailing themes seen in past years. Public pension funds and other institutional proponents are methodically cleaning up S&P 500 and Russell 2000 firms that still have classified boards and plurality voting in director elections. Meanwhile, retail activists are boosting their share of proposals calling for independent board chairmen and compensation reforms, in addition to their perennial filings on supermajority voting, special meetings, and written consent.
Based on submissions to date, several unexpected trends stand out. The first is a renewed blitz of resolutions on corporate campaign finance, particularly indirect lobbying activities, following the record spending in the 2012 election cycle. Although not likely to gain ground in support levels, proponents are clearly keeping up the momentum on this issue in the hopes of eventual SEC rulemaking mandating disclosure of political spending. Filings of compensation-related proposals have also escalated this year, though many of these were part of a now-abandoned campaign by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) to promote triennial SOP votes.
…continue reading: 2013 Proxy Season Preview: Key Shareholder Proposals