For many public companies, the new year marks the commencement of compensation season. Setting pay and targets for the new year, determining achievement of performance objectives for the past year and preparing the annual proxy statement contribute to a busy first quarter for compensation committees and management teams working with them. In 2010, companies will undertake these activities in a fluid environment, with executive compensation continuing to receive significant attention from shareholder activists, government and the media. As companies prepare for the upcoming compensation season, they should consider the following items.
New SEC Disclosure Requirements. Companies should take steps to ensure compliance with the new SEC rules which, among other things, address corporate governance matters, risk in compensation programs, independence of compensation consultants and the valuation of equity awards in the compensation tables (see see this Forum post or this Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz client memorandum for a description of the new rules). Companies should get an early start on organizing appropriate working groups, crafting necessary disclosures and preparing their directors so that they can meet their obligations with respect to upcoming filings…(continue reading)