Category: Proxy Statements and Annual Meetings

Johnson & Johnson May Exclude Shareholder Proposal for Binding Arbitration on Securities Claims

Cam C. Hoang

On February 11, 2019, the Staff of the Division of Corporation Finance granted no-action relief permitting Johnson & Johnson to omit a a shareholder proposal from its proxy statement relating to mandatory arbitration of shareholder claims arising under the federal securities laws. The Staff granted the request under Rule 14a-8(i)(2), which permits exclusion of a proposal that, if implemented, would cause the company to violate...

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

Cam C. Hoang

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...

Did you catch these developments for the 2019 proxy statement and Form 10-K?

Cam C. Hoang

The 10-K and proxy season begins in a little over a month for companies with calendar fiscal year-ends.  The following governance and disclosure developments should be considered in the course of preparing these filings. For additional background, see our presentation and supplemental materials for Preparing for the 2019 SEC Reporting Season. Proxy Statement Impact of the government shutdown: During the government shut down, the SEC is...

SEC Updates FAQs Regarding the Ongoing Government Shutdown

Whitney Holmes

On January 10, 2019, the Division of Corporation Finance of the Securities and Exchange Commission updated its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about how to handle certain filing matters during the U.S. government shutdown, which is now entering its fourth week. (See, sec.gov/page/corpfin-section-landing.) The staff revised questions 4 and 5 and added new questions 6 and 9. Question 4 was revised to emphasize that Rule 430A is...

U.S. Government Shutdown Impacts SEC Operations, EDGAR and Other Filings, Enforcement and Regulatory Activities

Whitney Holmes

In response to the U.S. government shutdown that began on December 22, 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and its Divisions of Corporation Finance and Investment Management published public guidance regarding the impacts on their operations. Although electronic filings will continue to be accepted in many cases, as described below, nearly all SEC operations, including the review and processing of filings and enforcement and...

ISS Updates FAQs on US Compensation Policies

Cam C. Hoang

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...

SEC Adopts Hedging Disclosure Rules

Kimberley R. Anderson

The SEC adopted new rules today that will require disclosure of a company’s hedging policies in proxy statements or information statements relating to the election of directors. The new rules are set forth in new Item 407(i) of Regulation S-K and require a company to describe any practices or policies it has adopted regarding the ability of its employees, officers or directors to engage in...

ISS Provides 2019 Voting Policy Updates

Michael Newton

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...

SEC Withdraws No Action Letters on Proxy Advisory Firms

Cam C. Hoang

In order to facilitate discussion on the role of proxy advisory firms at the upcoming Roundtable on the Proxy Process, which is scheduled for November 2018, the SEC staff has determined to withdraw two no action letters that provided comfort to investment advisers in relying on proxy advisory firm recommendations: In Egan-Jones Proxy Services (May 27, 2004), the staff had confirmed that by voting based on the...

SEC Issues $1.75 Million Penalty Over Perks Disclosures

Cam C. Hoang

A recent SEC consent order against The Dow Chemical Company reminds companies that when evaluating whether or not to disclose a payment or benefit to an executive as a perk in a proxy statement, the fact that the item has a tangential business purpose, or is convenient for the company, is insufficient grounds to exclude the item as a perk.  In order to be excluded as...