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Say-on-Pay Play-by-Play

(The following post originally appeared on ONSecurities, a top Minnesota legal blog founded by Martin Rosenbaum to address securities, governance and compensation issues facing public companies.)

August 18, 2009

As I've said before, some version of a requirement for shareholder advisory votes on compensation (Say-on-Pay) is likely to be adopted in the next few months. The Say-on-Pay requirement will probably be similar to the Corporate and Financial Institution Fairness Act of 2009, recently adopted by the House and described in the ON Securities Cheat Sheet. In other words, Say-on-Pay has become a political football lately.

    [Editor's Note: You may have noticed veiled references to "football" in the title and the first paragraph of this post. The Editor of the ON Securities Blog categorically denies ANY relationship between these references and Brett Favre's announcement Tuesday that he signed a contract with the Minnesota Vikings.]

It looks like shareholder advisory votes will not be required until the 2011 proxy season. Still, it makes sense to keep track of the results of recent advisory votes to see how various companies have fared. Several hundred financial institutions that received TARP funds were required to hold advisory votes last spring, and their recently filed Form 10-Q reports disclose many of the results.

So, what does the scoreboard look like in Say-on-Pay season? Generally, the non-binding proposals to approve executive compensation did very well. Here is a sampling of the results from financial institutions with strong ties to the Twin Cities:

US Bancorp: 92.0% in favor
Wells Fargo Company: 92.8% in favor
TCF Financial Corporation: 69.5% in favor

If the SEC adopts its recent rule proposals, we will no longer have to wait several months to see the results of shareholder votes. Companies will generally have to report them on Form 8-K within four business days. It will practically be possible to follow the results on your BlackBerry, along with football scores.


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