In late October the SEC issued its first updated Staff Legal Bulletin on shareholder proposals in years – Staff Legal Bulletin No. 14H (“SLB 14H”). Please see my blog on SLB 14H HERE. On the same day the SEC published two new Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations (“C&DI”) related to the unbundling of matters presented for a vote to shareholders in merger and acquisition transactions. The new C&DI has in essence granted voting rights to target company shareholders, on acquiring company organizational documents, where none existed before and has in essence pre-empted state law on the issue.
Unbundling under Rule 14a-4(a)(3) in the M&A Context
Exchange Act Rule 14a-4 relates to the requirements for a proxy card general. Rule 14a-4(a) provides:
(a) The form of proxy:
(1) Shall indicate in bold-face type whether or not the proxy is solicited on behalf of the registrant’s board of directors or, if provided other than by a majority of the board
On February 9, 2015, the SEC issued proposed rules that would increase corporate disclosure of company hedging policies for directors and employees in annual meeting proxy statements. The new rules are part of the ongoing rule-making requirements mandated by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act). In particular, the new rule would implement Section 14(j) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”), which requires annual meeting proxy or consent solicitation statements to disclose whether employees or members of the board are permitted to purchase financial instruments, such as options, swaps, collars and the like, to hedge price decreases in the company securities.
The proposed rules regulate disclosure of company policy as opposed to directing the substance of that policy or the underlying hedging activities. In fact, the rule specifically does not require a company to prohibit a hedging transaction or otherwise adopt specific policies. The rule would require disclosure about whether directors, officers and