Category: Securities

SEC Advisory Committee recommends changes to Rule 701

On Wednesday of last week, at the final meeting of the SEC Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies (soon to morph into the Small Business Capital Formation Advisory Committee), the Committee heard a presentation on Rule 701, the exemption from registration typically relied on by private companies for equity compensation issued to employees, directors and consultants under compensatory benefit plans or contracts. At the conclusion of the presentation, the Committee resolved, as one of its final actions, to advise the SEC to adopt the presentation’s recommendations for changes to the Rule.

Update on pay-ratio rule

Rumor has it that, at the recent ABA Business Law Section Annual Meeting in Chicago, Corp Fin Director Bill Hinman confirmed—in case there was any doubt—that the pay-ratio rule would be in place for reporting in 2018.

SEC Committee on Small and Emerging Companies completes final report and recommendations

At the final meeting yesterday of the SEC Committee on Small and Emerging Companies (apparently soon to morph into the Small Business Capital Formation Advisory Committee), the Committee finalized the discussion draft of its Final Report to the SEC and heard  presentations on SOX 404(b), the most recent bête noire of deregulation advocates. (The Committee also heard a presentation on Rule 701, which will be addressed in a subsequent post.)

Studies show hedge fund activists have adverse impact on board diversity and target more firms with women CEOs

While more and more institutional holders and asset managers are noisily promoting board diversity among their portfolio companies (see this PubCo post)—including, most recently, the NYC Comptroller and the NYC pension funds (see this PubCo post)—hedge fund activists (fka corporate raiders, now styling themselves as “activists”), seem to take quite a different tack.   Two recent studies have looked at the impact of hedge fund activism on diversity from different perspectives: one study showed that hedge fund activists have an adverse effect on board diversity at companies they attack and another study showed that female CEOs are significantly more likely than male CEOs to come under threat from hedge fund activists. 

Will board diversity be the new proxy access?

In 2014, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, who oversees the NYC pension funds, submitted proxy access proposals to 75 companies—and ignited the push for proxy access at public companies across the U.S. The form of proxy access proposed in this first phase of the Boardroom Accountability Project was very similar to the form of proxy access mandated under the SEC’s rules that were overturned in 2011, requiring an eligibility threshold of 3% ownership for three years, with shareholders having the right to nominate up to 25% of the board. (See this PubCo post and this PubCo post.) It has been reported that, of the 75 proposals submitted by the NYC comptroller in 2014, 63 went to a vote, with  average support of 56% and 41 receiving majority support.  In 2015, Stringer submitted more proxy access proposals. Notably, until Stringer’s initiative, private ordering for proxy access had not gathered much steam; only six companies had adopted proxy access.  Stringer’s office reports that, today, more than 425 companies, including over 60% of the S&P 500, have enacted proxy access bylaws. Now, the NYC Comptroller’s Office, leveraging the success of its proxy access campaign and the “powerful tool” it represents to “demand change,” has announced the Boardroom Accountability Project 2.0, which will focus on corporate board diversity, independence and climate expertise. Will Project 2.0 have an impact comparable to that of the drive for proxy access?

NYSE proposes rule changes related to material news and dividend notices

The NYSE is proposing two changes with regard to material news: the first relates to a limitation on the issuance of material news in the period immediately after the NYSE close, and the second relates to a delay in the effective date of the NYSE’s recent rule change regarding notice to the NYSE of dividends and stock distributions.

GAO report on gold supply chain reveals little progress in responsible sourcing

The GAO has issued a new report on conflict minerals focused in this instance on the supply chain for artisanal and small-scale mined (ASM) gold in the DRC region.  The report also addressed efforts to encourage responsible sourcing of ASM gold and sexual violence in the region since the GAO’s last report in August 2016.