Category: Board Governance and Compensation

When It Comes to Self-Identified Diversity: Trust But Verify

On February 6, 2019, the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance released Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations (identical Questions 116.11 and 133.13) advising companies on how they should disclose directors’ self-identified specific diversity characteristics (such as race, gender, ethnicity, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or cultural background) in proxy statements. In brief, Corp Fin would expect the company’s discussion of directors’ experience, qualifications, attributes or skills pursuant...

ISS Updates FAQs on US Compensation Policies

ISS released its annual update of frequently asked questions on its US Compensation Policies on December 20, 2018 (preliminary updates had been released in November). The updates are effective for shareholder meetings occurring on or after February 1, 2019. There are nine new or materially updated questions, which are summarized below: #19 Will any of the quantitative pay-for-performance screens change in 2019?  No.  The screens...

ISS Provides 2019 Voting Policy Updates

ISS recently announced the 2019 updates to its proxy voting policies, which can be found here and which will be applied to annual meetings held on or after February 1, 2019. Among the various updates provided by ISS, the following policies are particularly relevant for our clients, because they expand the circumstances in which ISS may recommend votes against director candidates: Absence of Board Gender...

Discretionary Equity Awards to Directors Subject to “Entire Fairness” Standard of Review

Human nature being what it is, the law, in its wisdom, does not presume that directors will be competent judges of the fair treatment of their company where fairness must be at their own personal expense.[1] According to the Delaware Supreme Court in In re Investors Bancorp, Inc. Stockholder Litigation, when equity awards are granted to directors under a stockholder-approved equity incentive plan that gives...

Proxy Access “Fix-It” Proposals Fizzle

As the 2017 proxy season winds down, one clear take-away is that shareholder proposals attempting to modify the terms of previously adopted mainstream proxy access bylaws did not fare well. Many of these proposals focused solely on the aggregation limit, seeking to increase the number of shareholders (usually 20) that are required to meet the minimum ownership threshold (usually 3% of outstanding shares) in order...

Say-on-Pay Voting Frequency ― The Financial CHOICE Act Adds Uncertainty to the Process

The House passed the Financial CHOICE Act on Thursday as part of the new administration’s bid to overhaul Dodd-Frank. It is not expected to get through the Senate in its current form, but it does provide an interesting read. While current disclosure requirements have become too lengthy and cumbersome in many respects, the proposed change to Say-on-Pay voting frequency requires a materiality determination that may...

Unexpected Risks of Early Exercise Incentive Stock Options

Companies that permit the grant of early exercise incentive stock options (“ISOs”) do so primarily to limit the impact of the alternative minimum tax (“AMT”). However, due to fairly counterintuitive tax regulations, structuring options in this fashion can expose optionees to negative tax consequences in the event of a disqualifying disposition. Read more about the tax effects of early exercise ISOs and how the tax...

Recent Developments in Proxy Access

As the 2017 proxy season begins to unfold, proxy access continues to be a focus of shareholder proposals. Last year, companies that had already adopted mainstream proxy access bylaws, or that were planning to put mainstream proxy access bylaws up for a shareholder vote, were largely successful in being able to exclude shareholder proposals to adopt proxy access bylaws on the grounds that such proposals...

Glass Lewis Releases Its 2017 Policy Guidelines

Glass Lewis released its updated policy guidelines for the 2017 proxy season for several countries, including the United States and Canada.  The most significant change in the United States guidelines relates to director overboarding and was expected.  The changes to the United States guidelines include: Director Overboarding Policy As indicated in last year’s guidelines, in 2017, Glass Lewis will generally recommend voting against a director...