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SOURCE The Conference Board
NEW YORK, Sept. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- While the number of shareholder proposals filed at U.S. public companies continued to increase this year, management has been less successful at obtaining permission from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to exclude new types of investor demands from the voting ballot. The finding is discussed in Proxy Voting Analytics (2009-2013), released today by The Conference Board in collaboration with FactSet.
The report, which examines data from more than 2,400 annual general meetings (AGMs) held at Russell 3000 companies between January 1 and June 30, 2013, shows that shareholders submitted 769 proposals on a variety of topics, up nearly 6 percent from the 726 recorded during the same period in 2012. Among S&P 500 companies, the number of filed shareholder proposals increased from 585 to 612 (or 4.6 percent). Both indexes, however, showed a sensible decline in the proportion of proposals that were omitted based on no-action relief granted by the SEC staff: from 24.5 to 22.3 percent among Russell 3000 companies and from 27.7 to 23.7 percent in the S&P 500.
"In the last few years, companies increasingly sought guidance from the SEC on the excludability of a variety of new proposal types, especially in the areas of executive compensation and environmental and social policy," says Matteo Tonello, managing director of Corporate Leadership at The Conference Board and coauthor of the report. "In the 2013 proxy season, while no-action requests continued to increase in number, the percentage of exclusions granted by the SEC was lower, in a sign that investors are learning from the most recent interpretive guidance and perfecting the formulation of their new demands so as to comply with securities regulations."
"The proportion of proposals reported as withdrawn also increased, signaling improved engagement between shareholders and companies," says Melissa Aguilar, a researcher at The Conference Board and a coauthor of the study. "Withdrawals were most frequent among proposals related to social and environmental policy and executive compensation, areas where shareholders often use precatory proposals as a way to start a dialogue about their concerns." During the January-June period, the level of proposals withdrawn rose to 10.1 percent, up from 5.9 percent in 2012 for the Russell 3000, and to 11.5 percent for the S&P 500, up from 6.5 percent during the same period last year.
Other findings highlighted in the new Proxy Voting Analytics (2009-2013) include:
Download the Executive Summary at: http://www.conference-board.org/proxy2013. The complete report, Proxy Voting Analytics (2009-2013), will be released in October. For an advance copy, contact Peter Tulupman (212) 339-0231 / firstname.lastname@example.org
About The Conference Board
The Conference Board is a global, independent business membership and research association working in the public interest. Our mission is unique: To provide the world's leading organizations with the practical knowledge they need to improve their performance and better serve society. The Conference Board is a non-advocacy, not-for-profit entity holding 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in the United States. For more information, please visit www.conference-board.org
FactSet, a leading provider of financial information and analytics, helps the world's best investment professionals outperform. More than 49,000 users stay ahead of global market trends, access extensive company and industry intelligence, and monitor performance with FactSet's desktop analytics, mobile applications, and comprehensive data feeds. FactSet's corporate governance database, SharkRepellent, provides information on takeover defense and proxy related issues. FactSet's corporate activism database, SharkWatch, provides access to detailed activist investor profiles. The Company has been included in FORTUNE's Top 100 Best Companies to Work For, the United Kingdom's Great Places to Work and France's Best Workplaces. FactSet is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ (NYSE:FDS) (NASDAQ:FDS). For more information, visit www.factset.com and follow FactSet on Twitter: www.twitter.com/factset.
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