On April 16, 2021, the SEC voted to reopen the comment period on the proposed rules for the use of Universal proxy cards in all non-exempt solicitations for contested director elections. The original rules were proposed on October 16, 2016 (see HERE) with no activity since. However, it is not surprising that the comment period re-opened, and it is not as a result of the new administration. The SEC’s Spring and Fall 2020 semi-annual regulatory agendas and plans for rulemaking both included universal proxies as action items in the final rule stage. Prior to that, the topic had sat in the long-term action category for years.
In light of the several years since the original proposing release, change in corporate governance environment, proliferation of virtual shareholder meetings, and rule amendments related to proxy advisory firms (see HERE) and shareholder proposals in the proxy process (see HERE), the SEC believed it prudent to re-open a public comment period.