Seventeen Boards of S&P 500 Companies Already Declassified Following Agreements with SRP-Represented Investors
The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation 2012-05-17
As described on the SRP’s website, during the 2011-12 proxy season, the SRP has been representing and advising several institutional investors – Illinois State Board of Investment (ISBI), the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association (LACERA), the Nathan Cummings Foundation (NCF), the North Carolina State Treasurer (NCDST), and the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) – in connection with the submission of precatory shareholder proposals to more than eighty S&P 500 companies that have classified boards. The proposals urge repealing the classified board and moving to annual elections, which are widely viewed as corporate governance best practice.
Through active engagement with companies receiving declassification proposals, negotiated outcomes have been obtained with forty-four S&P 500 companies receiving proposals from the SRP-represented investors (about half of the companies receiving such proposals). These forty-four companies have entered into agreements committing them to bring management proposals to declassify their boards. Overall, the forty-four companies that have entered into such agreements represent about one-third of the S&P 500 companies that had staggered boards as of the beginning of this proxy season, and have an aggregate market capitalization that exceeds (as of April 1, 2012) half a trillion dollars.
Of the forty-four agreed-upon management proposals, twenty-three management proposals have already gone to a shareholder vote. Of these twenty-three proposals, seventeen have passed, resulting in declassification of the board. The table below provides information concerning the agreed-upon management proposals that passed. As the table indicates, these proposals obtained average support of 99.08% of votes cast and 81.01% of votes outstanding.
The six management proposals to declassify that did not pass (detailed here) did receive a majority of the votes (95.51% of the votes cast on average, and 67.22% of the votes outstanding on average). However, the proposals did not pass due to the presence of high supermajority requirements.
Agreed-upon management proposals to declassify are expected to go to a vote at other S&P 500 companies later on. A list of such companies that have already made public filings that disclose the planned management proposals is available here.