On May 14, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced the adoption and immediate effectiveness of Section 312.03T of the NYSE Listed Company Manual. Recognizing that existing exceptions to the shareholder approval requirements in the NYSE Listed Company Manual are “not helpful in most situations arising from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Section 312.03T provides a temporary exception to shareholder approval requirements applicable to certain issuances of equity securities (or convertible or other securities that may result in the issuance of equity securities) representing 20 percent or more of a New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)-listed company’s common stock or voting power, as well as narrow exceptions from shareholder approval requirements in connection with issuances to a related party or equity compensation. Section 312.03T is scheduled to expire on June 30, 2020.
Continue Reading NYSE Provides Temporary Relief From Shareholder Approval Requirements Due to COVID-19

On October 16, the staff of the Division of Corporation Finance (Staff) of the Securities and Exchange Commission issued Staff Legal Bulletin No. 14K (SLB). The SLB provides new guidance regarding the Staff’s views as to when registrants may properly exclude, pursuant to Rule 14a-8(i)(7) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, shareholder proposals under the “ordinary business” exception.
Continue Reading SEC Issues Legal Bulletin Regarding Shareholder Proposals Exclusion

On November 1, the Division of Corporation Finance of the Securities and Exchange Commission (Division) published Staff Legal Bulletin No. 14I (SLB 14I), which provides new, issuer-friendly guidance on shareholder proposals in advance of the 2018 proxy season. Specifically, SLB 14I provides guidance on (1) exclusion of shareholder proposals under the “ordinary business” and “economic relevance” exceptions under Rule 14a-8 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934; (2) proposals submitted on behalf of shareholders through a representative; and (3) the use of images in proposals.
Continue Reading SEC Staff Publishes New Guidance on Shareholder Proposals

As previously reported in the Corporate and Financial Weekly Digest edition of October 30, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Corporation Finance (“Division”) issued Staff Legal Bulletin No. 14H (SLB 14H) on October 22, 2015. SLB 14H established a new standard for determining when a shareholder proposal conflicts with a company proposal (providing that a direct conflict would exist if a reasonable shareholder could not logically vote for both proposals) and therefore may be excluded from the company’s proxy statement under Rule 14a-8(i)(9).
Continue Reading SEC Issues No-Action Relief Pursuant to Rule 14a-8(i)(9)

On March 22, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Corporation Finance issued a new Compliance and Disclosure Interpretation (C&DI) regarding how a registrant must describe a Rule 14a-8 shareholder proposal on its proxy card to be in compliance with Rule 14a-4 (a)(3) of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934.
Continue Reading SEC Issues New C&DI Relating to Description of Shareholder Proposals on Proxy Cards

On February 12, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Corporation Finance (the Division) posted on its website 18 no-action letters relating to the exclusion of proxy access shareholder proposals under Rule 14a-8(i)(10). Rule 14a-8(i)(10) permits a company to exclude a shareholder proposal from its proxy statement if “the company has already substantially implemented the proposal.” In 15 of the 18 letters, the SEC granted issuers requested no-action relief, allowing them to exclude the shareholder proposals. In each case, the shareholder proposal sought adoption of a bylaw amendment that would permit shareholders holding a requisite threshold of shares to nominate board candidates for inclusion in the issuer’s proxy statement (i.e., a proxy access bylaw proposal).
Continue Reading SEC Issues No-Action Letters With Respect to Rule 14a-8(i)(10)