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"What's Goin' On?"

(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.)

November 19, 2009

Several new reports have been published that provide valuable information about what's going on in the public company world. Here are two that just came out:

    Pearl Meyer & Partners released a survey report covering companies' attitudes toward Say-on-Pay, which is currently required for TARP recipients but will not be required for other public companies until at least 2011. The survey found that most respondents were not very concerned about Say-on-Pay and are not yet taking specific steps to plan for shareholders advisory votes. The Pearl Meyer firm reports that virtually all advisory votes have passed, mostly by a sizeable majority. However, the firm cautions that institutional shareholders may get tougher on Say-on-Pay votes in the future. The survey report recommends some specific steps companies can take over the next several months to plan for Say-on-Pay.
    Frederick W. Cook & Co. released a report of its study of non-employee director compensation at the 100 largest New York Stock Exchange companies and the 100 largest Nasdaq companies. The study found that compensation levels generally stabilized in 2009 after several years of increases, which had tracked increased director responsibilities under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. The study also found that the compensation mix changed, with more companies moving director equity awards out of stock options and into stock awards. Also, the declines in the equity markets had a significant impact on equity award values, especially at Nasdaq companies. The study outlines median compensation levels at these companies and examines a number of compensation practices.

One more update - hot off the presses: I noticed that RiskMetrics today published some of its 2010 policy information, which applies to all shareholder meetings occurring on or after February 1, 2010. The more comprehensive proxy voting guidelines will be published in December. However, the just-released documents shed some light on RiskMetrics' evaluation of compensation and governance practices for the 2010 season. It appears that RiskMetrics will make some changes to its approach in making recommendations on Say-on-Pay votes and other compensation-related votes. I will report further on this next week.


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