Discussions around board gender diversity are picking up steam in the lead up to the 2018 proxy season. Some of the leading proxy advisory firms, namely the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis & Co. LLC (Glass Lewis), appear to have caught wind of the discussions – both firms added a voting policy in respect of board gender diversity to their 2018 proxy voting guidelines for Canada.
Glass, Lewis & Co., LLC (Glass Lewis), a leading governance and proxy voting firm, has recently released its 2018 Policy Guidelines for Proxy Advice in Canada. The following are three of its key changes from the 2017 Policy Guidelines:
Board Gender Diversity
In the new year, Glass Lewis will not make voting recommendations solely on the basis of board diversity. However, starting in 2019, Glass Lewis claims that it will generally recommend voting against the nominating committee chair of a board that has no female members, or has not adopted a formal written gender diversity policy. This … Continue Reading
In its recent PointNorth Capital Inc. decision, the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) was called upon to consider the appropriateness of a soliciting dealer arrangement that had been entered into by the issuer, Liquor Stores N.A. Ltd., in the context of a proxy fight. The arrangement was intended to address management’s constrained ability to solicit proxies due to the fact that many of the shareholders were “objecting beneficial owners” who could only be contacted indirectly through brokers.
The ASC dismissed the application by dissident shareholders of Liquor Stores, the PointNorth limited partnerships, for orders requiring Liquor Stores to terminate the arrangement, … Continue Reading
The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) have recently released finalized guidance and protocols for meeting vote reconciliation under CSA Staff-Notice 54-305 Meeting Vote Reconciliation Protocols (the Protocols) which are implemented on a voluntary basis. The Protocols mark the latest step in a systemic review that began in 2013 to bring greater transparency and simplicity in vote tabulation specifically for shares held through intermediaries.
As discussed in our previous update, the Protocols are primarily intended to address the issue that all votes of beneficial holders are properly tabulated to ensure that true beneficial holders can exercise their right … Continue Reading
The majority of shareholders in Canada hold their shares through a broker or other intermediary which in turn holds their shares with the Canadian Depository for Securities Limited (CDS). Most voting at shareholder meetings therefore occurs within a layered, complex and opaque proxy system. This leads to uncertainty as to whether all of the votes of the true beneficial shareholders are properly tabulated. The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) have announced proposed changes to the process of vote counting and reconciliation, which will hopefully result in a more accurate, reliable and accountable voting system.
The CSA has proposed new protocols for … Continue Reading
The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) recently provided an update on their ongoing review of proxy voting infrastructure. The progress report follows the publication of CSA Consultation Paper 54-401 Review of the Proxy Voting Infrastructure in August 2013 (the Consultation Paper).
The Consultation Paper examined two issues: (i) the accuracy of vote reconciliation in the current proxy voting infrastructure; and (ii) what type of shareholder communication (end-to-end vote confirmation) should be added to the proxy voting infrastructure to allow shareholders to confirm that their proxy votes and voting instructions have been property transmitted, received and tabulated.
Following the … Continue Reading
The role of proxy advisory firms in the marketplace has been a focal point on both sides of the border as recent guidance by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) highlights the powerful influence of proxy advisory firms and need for increased accountability and transparency.
In the US, the SEC Staff released a bulletin in June entitled Proxy Voting: Proxy Voting Responsibilities of Investment Advisers and Availability of Exemptions from the Proxy Rules for Proxy Advisory Firms (the Bulletin) which places some onus on the investment advisor, as … Continue Reading