February 22, 2013

Shareholder Activism: 1888 Style!

Last week, the Financial Times ran a special supplement in honor of its 125th anniversary and they duplicated their front page from February 13, 1888. (I magnified the font size and it’s still hard to read; no wonder everybody wore bifocals.) On this ancient front page, there’s a letter to the editor in which a disgruntled shareholder of the Metropolitan District Railway gripes about the “most depressing character” of the company’s six-month results and calls for the shareholders to oppose the re-election of the chairman and all board members, demand the resignation of all directors and managers, and call a special shareholders meeting to appoint a special investigative committee. Just goes to show you there is nothing new in the world of shareholder feistiness!

In addition, check out the notice in the last column about some guy who disavows his involvement with a certain prospectus. That is why the Securities Act requires signatures and consents. Also, there were a disturbing number of notices under “Latest Shipping News” about shipwrecks and the like. Harrowing times back then.

You gotta see this 2-year old take on Jimmy Kimmel in hoops

Wanna Make a Bundle? Read Some Corp Fin Comment Letters!

Interesting Bloomberg article that claims that a short seller named Muddy Waters made a mint – and caused $7 billion in losses for Chinese stocks – by simply reading through comment letters Corp Fin had uploaded to Edgar. Hat tip to Lois Yurow for pointing this out!

Screening Existing Directors for Independence

In this podcast, John DiRocco of Sunoco provides some practical guidance about how to screen existing directors for independence issues, including:

– How often should companies screen existing directors for independence conflicts?
– How should the screening be performed (oral, written, etc.)?
– What types of circumstances indicate that there should be follow-up diligence?
– How much time does a typical screening take?
– Any practical tips on how to screen?

– Broc Romanek