On Friday, the Corp Fin staff announced that it has updated its Guidance for Conducting Shareholder Meetings in Light of COVID-19 Concerns originally published on March 13, 2020 and updated on April 7, 2020 (see this PubCo post and this PubCo post). The updated guidance posted on Friday tweaks the advice related to presentation of shareholder proposals, extending its application to the 2021 proxy season.
Under Rule 14a-8(h), shareholder proponents, or their representatives, are required to appear at the meeting to present their proposals. The new guidance provides that,
“[i]n light of the possible difficulties for shareholder proponents to attend annual meetings in person to present their proposals, the staff encourages issuers, to the extent feasible under state law, to provide shareholder proponents or their representatives with the ability to present their proposals through alternative means, such as by phone, during the 2020 and 2021 proxy seasons.
“Furthermore, to the extent a shareholder proponent or representative is not able to attend the annual meeting and present the proposal due to the inability to travel or other hardships related to COVID-19, the staff would consider this to be ‘good cause’ under Rule 14a-8(h) should issuers assert Rule 14a-8(h)(3) as a basis to exclude a proposal submitted by the shareholder proponent for any meetings held in the following two calendar years.”