Pros and Cons of Voluntarily Implementing Proxy Access

by Charles Nathan, for The Harvard Law School Forum at Harvard Law School, January 13, 2010.

Although many things about proxy access remain uncertain, it is clear the SEC remains committed to adopting a final rule in early 2010. The new rule will likely be effective for the 2011 proxy season.

In our previous Proxy Access Analysis No. 4 we observed that:

  • A critical question for companies and investors alike is whether the final rule will permit shareholders to adopt bylaws that impose greater limitations on proxy access than the SEC rule (for example, by raising the minimum number of shares that a nominating shareholder must own or increasing the holding period).
  • If the final rule does permit shareholders to adopt such a bylaw (commonly called an opt-out bylaw), it seems safe to assume many companies will propose opt-out bylaws to their shareholders in order to tailor proxy access better to the particular circumstances of each company.
  • It would make sense for companies to consider over the next several months whether they would prefer to propose an opt-out bylaw at their 2010 annual meetings, rather than waiting until their 2011 meetings or later…(continue reading)
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