Why You Should Not Miss Shareholders' Meetings
Larger institutions, of course, can put pressure on corporate boards behind the scenes. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Goldman Sachs(GS) agreed to appoint a "lead" director as part of a deal with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which owns over 7,000 shares in the New York investment bank. In return, the labor union agreed not to put forth a shareholder proposal on Goldman's proxy to replace the company's chairman, Lloyd Blankfein, with an independent chairman. Blankfein currently assumes the dual role of chairman and CEO at Goldman, an arrangement that limits the ability of the board to act as an independent check on Blankfein's leadership.
The deal hardly seems like a good one for shareholders, but its existence suggests that Goldman fears an embarrassing vote at its annual meeting coming up in May after its internal culture has become the subject of public criticism. Afscme said Tuesday it was unhappy with Goldman's choice as a lead director-- James Schiro -- so we'll see how that turns out.
Next week, I'll follow up with information about new tools that are becoming available for shareholders and investors to participate in proxy voting.
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