Monday, November 5, 2012

Suppose You Couldn't Have Your Annual Shareholder's Meeting

In 2010, Congress passed and President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) into law. Billed as a reaction to the financial crisis and abuse by the financial services industry of the public trust, Dodd-Frank has been more ... much more. Whether that more and much more has been good for the public or for anyone else is a matter of opinion. My opinion, as it is with most laws is that there were good parts, and there were less good parts. But, as is often their wont, Congress attacked a problem with far too broad-reaching a weapon.

Many of the more controversial provisions of the nearly 3000 page law lie in Title IX dealing with executive compensation and paramount among those may be the Shareholder Say on Pay (SSOP). Under these provisions, shareholders have the opportunity to weigh in, albeit in a non-binding fashion, on executive compensation proposals.

As is often the case with such provisions, plaintiff's bar views provisions such as these as an opportunity to litigate the matters. In one case, in California, in order to get a temporary injunction lifted, a company was forced to delay the implementation of their executive compensation proposal, file a revised and more detailed definitive proxy (Form 14A) and pay plaintiff's attorneys more than half a million dollars.

Suppose they hadn't done this. Then a state judge in California was precluding the company from conducting its annual meeting.

And, this was not because the executive compensation package was viewed as being outlandish, but simply over a few provisions that MAY not have been worded perfectly.

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