February 22, 2011

Sleeper: FAA Issues Final Guidance re: Airplane Use Reimbursement

From’s “The Advisors’ Blog“: Here’s something that I kept putting off blogging about until someone else wrote about it – but no one ever has. In our “Airplane Use” Practice Area, I have posted final guidance that the FAA issued on December 30th about its reconsideration of the “Schwab” interpretation regarding executives not being allowed to reimburse for corporate aircraft use under certain circumstances (here’s my blog about the FAA’s proposal).

Here’s one member’s reaction to this guidance:

It is a another example of bureaucrats standing in the way of common sense and sound policy. If an executive wants to pay for personal use of corporate aircraft, there is no reason the FAA should stand in the way.

Based on my reading of the policy, the FAA would allow CEO to fully reimburse XYZ for the personal use of corporate aircraft, but only if it is possible he could be called back on company business or forced to cancel his trip ( i.e., a normal vacation). On the other hand, if he is going to a wedding or funeral, FAA has declared it would not be reasonable to assume the company would – or could – force him to alter his plans. Thus, if he uses the plane for a wedding, he could only reimburse a limited amount of the expense under FAA guidelines ( i.e., fuel and landing fees), whereas he could pay all the incremental costs associated with a normal vacation.

If his wife or kids used the plane when CEO was not present, you could read the guidelines to limit the reimbursement to the limited FAA guideline level. If the company wants to establish a written policy that makes reimbursement of personal use of corporate aircraft mandatory, the policy will have to include a caveat that any reimbursement must comply with FAA restrictions.

More on “Say-on-Pay Frequency: Confusion Over Vote Counting”

As a follow-up to my recent blog regarding “Say-on-Pay Frequency: Confusion Over Vote Counting,” here are a few interesting items:

1. As reflected in this nifty chart from’s “Say-on-Pay” Practice Area, ExeQuity’s Robbi Fox has been tracking the proxy statements for the S&P 500 companies who have filed so far (as compared to voting results filed in Form 8-Ks) and out of the 36 S&P 500 companies that have filed proxies:

– Abstentions count as against, broker nonvotes have no effect -15 companies (42%)
– Abstentions and broker nonvotes have no effect -18 companies – (50%)
– Abstentions and broker nonvotes count as against – 3 companies – (8%)

2. In her “100 F Street” Blog, Vanessa Schoenthaler analyzes “The Anatomy of a Shareholder Vote Calculation.

3. Here’s an interesting piece called “Doing The Math On Proxy Odds,” which analyzes the potential use of vote modeling – in the form of “voting power analysis” – typically used in political campaigns in some proxy battles at public companies.

4. I agree wholeheartedly with Mark Borges’ blog last Friday entitled “Is it Worth Making a Triennial Vote Recommendation?” As I wrote in the Winter 2011 issue of the Compensation Standards newsletter in early January, most institutional investors have been vocal about their preference for an annual frequency – even if they didn’t really care about having it from a substantive perspective, they still wanted an annual vote to facilitate their ability to run their own peer comparisons (difficult to do if companies are holding SOP votes in different years). So these institutions decided to seek it from a process perspective.

So I’m not sure why companies continue to recommend triennial now that the early meeting results bear out that shareholders will often reject that frequency (as noted in ISS’s blog on Friday). As Tim Smith of Walden Asset Management emailed me over the weekend, he was initially angry about Dodd-Frank’s midnight addition of a frequency vote – but he’s now glad that frequency is on the ballot because rejecting the triennial recommendation has woken up many shareholders to the power that they now have with say-on-pay. It’s a reminder of what shareholder engagement is all about – listen to your shareholders and act on what they say. Clearly, many companies are choosing to operate in a bubble…

In his “Proxy Disclosure Blog,” Mark Borges gives us the latest say-when-on-pay stats: with 248 companies filing their proxies, 57% triennial; 6% biennial; 32% annual; and 5% no recommendation.

Webcast: “Developments in Debt Restructurings & Debt Tender/Exchange Offers”

Tune in tomorrow for the webcast – “Developments in Debt Restructurings & Debt Tender/Exchange Offers” – to hear Casey Fleck of Skadden Arps, Ward Winslow of Jones Day, Jay Goffman of Skadden Arps and Richard Truesdell of Davis Polk discuss how to conduct debt tender and exchange offers and restructure debt – including how these deals have changed in the current economic climate.

– Broc Romanek