April 17, 2008
I just put the finishing touches on our new newsletter – “InvestorRelationships.com” – which is a quarterly online publication. This newsletter is free, as well as all the issues for the rest of ’08. You simply sign-up online to be notified when the next issue is available (you also need to sign-up to be e-mailed an ID and password in order to access future issues).
Why this new newsletter? As you can see from the article titles in the Spring ’08 issue listed below, I felt there was a dearth of practical guidance on the cutting-edge – as well as the “bread ‘n butter” – issues confronted by those involved in investor relations, shareholder services and corporate governance today. Take a look and let me know what you think:
– The E-Proxy Experience: Practice Pointers and Pitfalls to Avoid
– The Coming Online IR Campaigns: The Future of Director Elections
– The Regulation FD Corner
– Ten Steps to a Clawback Provision with “Teeth”
– Notables: All the Latest
Washington Mutual: Case In Point
The jaw-dropping results from the Washington Mutual annual meeting this week are timely in that they bolster my argument that companies need to learn how to “campaign” during the proxy season cycle. These arguments – and specific recommendations about how to campaign – are in my piece entitled “The Coming Online IR Campaigns: The Future of Director Elections” (sign-up to obtain your free copy).
So what happened at the WaMu meeting? Here is what has been reported so far:
– One director resigned, Mary Pugh, who was the Chair of the company’s Finance Committee.
– Some reports state that all director nominees received majority support (eg. see this article); others are reporting that three nominees failed to reach a majority. Change to Win’s press release states that one director had 51.2% withheld, another had 50.9% withheld and Ms. Pugh had 61.9% withheld.
– Change to Win called on the WaMu board to immediately release full election results and demand the resignation of any directors who failed to win majority shareholder votes. WaMu then issued this press release that contains preliminary results – notice the paragraph at the bottom that leads one to believe that the difference in the three challenged nominees getting majority support was the presence of broker non-votes.
– With a vote of 51%, shareholders supported a precatory proposal to appoint an independent director as chair.
– In February, WaMu revised its incentive program in a way so that mortgage-related credit losses and foreclosure costs could have been cast aside when awarding management’s performance bonuses. Shareholders were not pleased – and WaMu’s CEO announced at the annual meeting that the board would soon revise the pay program to hold management more accountable for credit-related losses.
The campaign against WaMu has been intense during the past month, fueled by plenty of online tactics. For example, Change to Win launched this blog that targeted the company. Yes, the future is now. Read the Spring ’08 issue of InvestorRelationships.com today to learn how to protect yourself. ] I also recommend reading this new memo from Davis Polk about how the ’08 proxy season is faring so far.]
Corp Fin’s New M&A Chief: Michele Anderson
Congrats to Michele Anderson, who was promoted to Corp Fin’s new Chief of the Office of Mergers & Acquisitions. Most recently, Michele served as a Legal Branch Chief in the Office of Telecommunications – but she spent time in OM&A a few years back. She replaces Brian Breheny, who was promoted to Deputy Director a few months ago.
– Broc Romanek