SEC Adopts Amendments To Rules Governing Proxy Advisory Firms

On July 13, 2022, the SEC adopted amendments to the rules governing proxy voting advice, in essence undoing material provisions in the new rules that had been adopted in July 2020.  The newest rules were proposed in November 2021 but had effectively been in place since June 2021 when SEC Chair Gary Gensler issued a statement making it clear that the SEC would not be enforcing the 2020 amendments to certain rules governing proxy advisory firms or the SEC guidance on those new rules.

The final rules rescind two of the rules adopted in 2020 and specifically, the conditions to the availability of two exemptions from the proxy rules’ information and filing requirements on which proxy voting advice businesses may rely. Those conditions require that: (i) companies that are the subject of proxy voting advice have such advice made available to them in a timely manner; and (ii) clients of proxy voting advice businesses are provided with a means of

Virtual Annual Meetings

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to disrupt normal business operations and impede a third proxy/annual meeting season, the SEC has issued guidance regarding compliance with the federal proxy rules for upcoming annual meetings considering health, transportation, and other logistical issues raised by the spread of Covid.  Layering onto the guidance directed at extra-ordinary circumstances is the growing underlying belief that virtual and hybrid meetings are here to stay and public America must navigate a new road map.

SEC Guidance

On January 19, 2022, the SEC Divisions of Corporation Finance (“CorpFin”) and of Investment Management issued guidance related to meeting the requirements of the federal proxy rules for holding annual meetings in light of Covid disruptions.  In addition to the specific guidelines, the SEC strongly encourages all market participants, including broker-dealers, transfer agents, and proxy service providers to be flexible and work collaboratively with one another with the goal of facilitating a company’s obligation to hold an annual meeting.

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