The SEC has set a time and date for a review of corporate democracy rules that promises to stir up trouble with investors who fear losing the influence they’ve gained over company behavior and the companies anticipating an easier time of it under a business-friendly administration.
In its notice 2018-260, the agency announces that it has chosen agenda and panelists for the staff roundtable, to be held on November 15, 2018, at 9:30 a.m., at the SEC headquarters in Washington. The roundtable will be open to the public, as well as webcast live on the SEC website and archived for later viewing.
Members of the public can provide their views on the proxy process and related SEC rules, prior to or after the roundtable, via electronic or paper submission.
Reuters reports that large pension funds and other shareholders have been able to compel company votes on a range of environmental, social and governance matters, and that companies are increasingly complaining that “voting rules have allowed special interests and proxy advisory firms that recommend how investors should vote to hijack corporate boardrooms with costly demands.”
While the SEC has listened to corporate worries, thus far it has taken no action to curtail the influence of shareholder proposals, which have become more visible in the wake of the financial crisis. An SEC spokesperson is quoted in the report saying, “It is important to regularly review whether our existing rules are achieving their objectives effectively in light of changes in our marketplace.”