TheCorporateCounsel.net

October 19, 2010

SEC Proposes Rules for Say-on-Pay and Golden Parachutes

Yesterday, the SEC posted two proposing releases – one for say-on-pay and golden parachutes and the other for institutional investment managers reporting how they voted on executive compensation and golden parachute arrangements. Here’s the SEC’s press release – and here is analysis of the proposals from Mark Borges’ “Proxy Disclosure Blog.” We will post memos analyzing these proposals in CompensationStandards.com’s “Say-on-Pay” Practice Area.

Note that these proposals weren’t a product of an open Commission meeting. The SEC smartly issued this set of proposals without the fanfare of an open meeting, which is not required if all of the Commissioners sign an order (ie. seriatim). Probably since these proposals are required by Dodd-Frank – and time is of the essence – the SEC went with what used to be the traditional route of getting a proposal out of the SEC (more recently, nearly all proposals are the product of open Commission meetings; it wasn’t that way a decade ago).

Say-on-Pay: What Should September 30th Fiscal Year End Companies Do?

You may recall that Dodd-Frank requires that say-on-pay must be included in proxy statements relating to a company’s first annual or other meeting of shareholders occurring on or after January 21, 2011 – regardless of whether the SEC has adopted final rules by then (that’s just for say-on-pay; the golden parachute provision is not self-executing and the SEC states that provision won’t apply to companies until it finalizes those rules). The comment deadline for both rulemakings is November 18th – so it will be a tight squeeze for the SEC to adopt final rules by January 21st (but it is doable).

I have been hearing from a number of companies with 9/30 fiscal year ends that were freaking out because they didn’t have SEC guidance on a number of issues. Now, they have some guidance – even though it isn’t final. One big issue for these companies related to their proxy preparation schedule because they didn’t have any relief from the preliminary proxy filing requirements yet. Fortunately, in the SEC’s proposing release, the SEC does provide some relief on page 65. Here is that excerpt:

Rule 14a-6 currently requires the filing of a preliminary proxy statement at least ten days before the proxy is sent or mailed to shareholders unless the meeting relates only to the matters specified by Rule 14a-6(a). Until we take final action to implement Exchange Act Section 14A, we will not object if issuers do not file proxy material in preliminary form if the only matters that would require a filing in preliminary form are the say-on-pay vote and frequency of say-on-pay vote required by Section 14A(a).

In the proposing release, the SEC also states that these companies are permitted to conduct the frequency vote on the basis of the proposed four choices – every year, every two years, every three years, or abstain.

The ‘Former’ Corp Fin Staff Speaks on Proxy Access & Dodd-Frank

This is a “biggie.” Tune in tomorrow for the 75-minute webcast – “The ‘Former’ Corp Fin Staff Speaks on Proxy Access & Dodd-Frank” – to hear former Senior Staffers Brian Breheny of Skadden Arps; Marty Dunn of O’Melveny & Myers; John Huber of Latham & Watkins; Brian Lane of Gibson Dunn and Dave Lynn of TheCorporateCounsel.net and Morrison & Foerster weigh in on what do now that the proxy access rules are stalled, plus analysis of all the latest from the SEC’s Corp Fin on Dodd-Frank related-matters – including say-on-pay and more. If you’re not yet a member of TheCorporateCounsel.net, try a no-risk trial for 2011 and gain access to this webcast for free.

- Broc Romanek