Online opposition launched to SEC proxy access proposals

The Social Investment Forum (SIF) and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility have launched a website – www.SaveShareholderRights.org – as part of a campaign to oppose controversial US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposals they argue would seriously undermine investor rights.

The groups are campaigning against three SEC proposals open for comment until 2 October. The first is an “opt-out” option, which would allow corporate boards to choose to drop out of the shareholder resolution process. The second proposal is the unilateral substitution of the electronic petition model or ‘chat room’ for the “vibrant and public” 14a-8 shareholder resolution process.The third would see the levels at which shareholders can resubmit proposals raised from the current 3%, 6%, and 10% vote levels to 10%, 15% and 20% levels.

The website aims to enlist 500 institutions and financial professionals to sign a joint statement opposing the SEC proposals, and help facilitate the filing of several thousand comments by individual investors. Tim Smith, SIF chair, said: “We strongly oppose proposals at the SEC to either eliminate the shareholder resolution process or make it more difficult to sponsor resolutions. We also oppose any step to make it more difficult for investors to help nominate directors. Shareholder advocacy is vitally important in communicating with corporate boards, management and other investors on key issues such as climate change, governance reforms, employee diversity, executive compensation, and human rights in overseas factories”.

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