On November 17, 2021, the SEC adopted final rules requiring parties in a contested election to use universal proxy cards that include all director nominees presented for election at a shareholder meeting. The original rules were proposed on October 16, 2016 (see HERE) with no activity until April, 2021, when the SEC re-opened a comment period (see HERE). The rule adoption comes with a flurry of rule amendments, proposals and guidance related to the proxy process, some of which reverses recent rules on the same subject.
The final rules will require dissident shareholders and registrants to provide shareholders with a proxy card that includes the names of all registrant and dissident nominees.
The rules will apply to all non-exempt solicitations for contested elections other than those involving registered investment companies and business development companies. The rules will require registrants and dissidents to provide each other with notice of the names of their nominees, establish a filing deadline and
Following a tense period of debate and comments, on September 23, 2020, the SEC adopted amendments to Rule 14a-8 governing shareholder proposals in the proxy process. The proposed rule was published almost a year before in November 2019 (see HERE). The amendment increases the ownership threshold requirements required for shareholders to submit and re-submit proposals to be included in a company’s proxy statement. The ownership thresholds were last amended in 1998 and the resubmission rules have been in place since 1954. The new rules represent significant changes to a shareholder’s rights to include matters on a company’s proxy statement.
Shareholder proposals, and the process for including or excluding such proposals in a company’s proxy statement, have been the subject of debate for years. The rules have not been amended in decades and during that time, shareholder activism has shifted. Main Street investors tend to invest more through mutual funds and ETF’s, and most shareholder proposals come from