US senators suggest acting SEC chairman is overreaching his authority

SEC chair Michael Piwowar

In a sign of disquiet about the acting chair of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Michael Piwowar, Democratic Senators have suggested that he has overreached his authority in a letter to the regulator’s inspector general, Carl Hoecker.

The Senators point out that Piwowar’s position is temporary until President Trump’s nominee for the position, Jay Clayton, has been approved by Congress.… Read the rest

Chilling, excessive rules for shareholder activists and analysts

Texan state legislature disclosure act

Shareholder activists and proxy analysts face up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000 if they fail to comply with a new regulations being proposed in the USA.

The US state legislature in Texas has proposed a bill, which would, if passed, require activist investors and proxy advisory firms owning or commenting on Texan publicly-listed companies adhere to new disclosure requirements that go far beyond current federal rules.… Read the rest

Demand for CEO pay ratios intensifies

CEO pay ratio disclosure rule

Demand for CEO pay ratios has increased with initiatives in the US and UK focusing on the discrepancies between director and employee pay and the need for more regulation.

US Democratic Senator Bob Menendez and eight other senators have written to Michael Piwowar, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, to urge him to implement the CEO pay ratio rule which would require companies to disclose the ratio between chief executive (CEO) pay and the pay of their median worker.… Read the rest

Caterpillar: Federal investigations prompt investor concerns

Caterpillar federal investigation tax schemes

Investors in machinery, vehicle and engine manufacturer Caterpillar have called on its board to establish a special committee to investigate any risks related to tax schemes set up by the company which are now subject to investigations by US federal authorities.… Read the rest

US Business Roundtable supports Dodd Frank reform

Business Roundtable | BRT

The Business Roundtable (BRT), an association of the top US chief executives, has voiced its support for President Trump’s plans to reform Dodd Frank and has outlined a number of corporate governance regulations that it believes need reform or to be repealed.… Read the rest

Yahoo CEO gives up bonus over 2014 cyber security breach

Yahoo CEO cyber security data breach

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo chief executive, has lost her 2016 cash bonus and forgone her 2017 equity award after an investigation found that executives at the technology company were aware of a cyber security data breach in 2014 but did not actively investigate the incident.… Read the rest

S&P 100 companies increase disclosure on investor engagement

Nearly half of S&P 100 companies included information in 2016 that showed how they responded to shareholder concerns and made changes to policies, according to a new report from US corporate adviser, Equilar.

 

In 2016 42% of S&P 100 companies included disclosures in their proxy statements on how they modified their practices after engaging with shareholders compared to just 14% in 2012.… Read the rest

US SEC: Comments sought on pay ratio disclosure rule

SEC Securities & Exchange Commission

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is seeking comments from companies are encountering as they look to comply with the CEO Pay Ratio disclosure rule which took effect for financial years from 1st January 2017. The rule, hotly debated by business and investors alike, requests companies to disclose the ratio of the median of the annual total pay of all employees to the annual total pay of the chief executive.… Read the rest

President Trump begins rollback of Dodd-Frank

Business Roundtable letter Whitehouse

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday (3rd February) seeking a review of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulatory framework. At the same time President Trump has rescinded the Fiduciary Rule which was designed to eliminate investment advisor conflicts-of-interest in respect of retirement plans.… Read the rest

USA: Investor Stewardship Group launches Codes

Investor Stewardship Group

The US has moved a step closer to a national stewardship and governance code with the launch of the Investor Stewardship Group. The signatories and supporters of the $17 trillion group are now urging all institutional investors to join the framework.… Read the rest

US firms and investors call on Trump to tackle climate change

Lars Petersson, CEO of IKEA-USA

A coalition of 530 US companies and 100 institutional investors have called on President-elect Donald Trump and politicians in Congress to embrace a low carbon economy and tackle climate change ahead of Trump’s inauguration later this month.

In a statement, which is also addressed to the the outgoing President Obama and global leaders, the signatories said they re-affirmed their deep commitment to addressing climate change through the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement.… Read the rest

US updates ESG & voting guidance for ERISA funds

Phyllis Borzl - DoL

US regulators have responded to concerns that employee pension plans have not been exercising their shareholder rights by issuing updated guidance on proxy voting for 2017.

The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) agency said that it is has long believed that it is important for plan administrators to know what their responsibilities are when they vote proxies on those shares or exercise other shareholder rights.… Read the rest