On July 10, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) proposed changes that would substantially reduce the number of investors required to file quarterly reports showing their holdings of U.S.-listed equities on Form 13F. The SEC’s proposal would increase the 13F reporting threshold 35 fold — from $100 million to $3.5 billion — and
Francesca L. Odell
UPDATE: Cuomo Executive Order Gives New York Corporations Relief on Physical Annual Meetings
This is an updated version of our prior post to address Governor Cuomo’s most recent Executive Orders.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Cuomo declared a disaster emergency and ceased operation of all non-essential businesses in New York state with the March 7 Executive Order 202 and its successor Executive Orders. In particular, the March 20th Executive Order 202.8 provided temporary suspension of several state law regulatory requirements, including with respect to shareholder meetings of New York corporations. …
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ISS Issues Additional Voting Policy Guidance in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic
On April 8, Institutional Shareholder Services (“ISS”) published additional guidance on application of its benchmark voting policies amid the COVID-19 pandemic. ISS had previously issued its 2020 benchmark policies update to be applied for shareholder meetings on or after February 1, 2020. Noting the societal and economic uncertainty wrought by COVID-19 since its prior update, ISS provides further guidance focused on four key areas:
- Annual General Meeting (“AGM”) Issues;
- Poison Pills, Shareholder Rights and Boards/Directors;
- Compensation Issues; and
- Capital Structure and Payouts.
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The Keys to Emergency Succession: Planning For Boards and Senior Management During a Health Pandemic
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread in the U.S. and abroad, public companies are grappling with the ramifications (real or potential) of a senior executive(s) contracting the virus. Together with senior management, boards of directors should be actively reviewing their emergency preparedness plans, including their emergency succession plans for key executives. Boards also need to proactively address the possibility that one or more directors become sick, including by reviewing the board’s contingency plans to ensure the board will be able to continue to perform its duties.
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New SEC Coronavirus Actions: Extended Conditional Relief for Filing Deadlines, New Disclosure Guidance, Temporary Relief for EDGAR Form ID Applications
On March 25, 2020, due to the continuing impact of COVID-19, the SEC issued an order extending its previously-issued conditional relief from certain Exchange Act reporting requirements and proxy delivery requirements.
In particular, the March 25 order provides U.S. public companies with a 45-day extension to file or furnish certain filings otherwise due between March
Insider Trading Risk During the COVID-19 Outbreak
On March 20, 2020, news outlets reported that four U.S. Senators sold millions of dollars in stock following classified briefings to the Senate on the threat of a COVID-19 outbreak. Three days later, the Co-Directors of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) Division of Enforcement, Stephanie Avakian and Steven Peikin, issued a statement reminding market participants of their obligations with respect to material non-public information (“MNPI”) and of the SEC’s commitment to protecting investors from fraud and ensuring market integrity. …
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Glass Lewis Revised Guideline Regarding Virtual Meetings for 2020 Proxy Season
Glass Lewis recently announced an update of its guidelines, which temporarily relaxes its standard policy against virtual meetings in light of COVID-19. The update provides that “[f]or companies opting to hold a virtual-only shareholder meeting during the 2020 proxy season (March 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020), [Glass Lewis] will generally refrain from recommending to vote against members of the governance committee on this basis, provided that the company discloses, at a minimum, its rationale for doing so, including citing COVID-19.” This formal update of Glass-Lewis’s guidelines comes on the heels of statements by both Glass-Lewis and ISS indicating openness to relax their positions on virtual meetings, which we discussed here.
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UPDATE: Coronavirus & Virtual Annual Meetings
This is an updated version of our prior post to address a new guideline issued by Glass Lewis.
With rising concerns around the spread of COVID-19 (“coronavirus”) in the United States and globally, in order to mitigate health risks, many public companies may consider adding a virtual component to the format of their annual shareholder meetings. In the United States, state law generally governs the availability of a virtual meeting format. At the federal level, the SEC regulates the filing and mailing of proxy solicitation materials. While we have not seen direct guidance from state legislatures on virtual or hybrid meetings in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, on March 13, 2020, the SEC released guidance (“SEC Coronavirus Guidance”) addressing annual shareholder meetings in light of recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) and other public health officials to cancel, or explicitly state policies that prohibit, large, in-person gatherings in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Set forth below are various considerations that a company should take into account when determining whether to move from an in-person to a virtual or hybrid annual meeting…
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Coronavirus & Postponing/Adjourning Annual Meetings
In light of the growing concern about COVID-19 (“coronavirus”) in the United States and globally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) and other public health officials have recommended cancelling large, in-person gatherings for the next several weeks. As a result, some companies may be considering, or may in the coming weeks need to consider, postponing the date of their shareholder meeting. While moving to a virtual or hybrid meeting, as discussed in our blog post, “Coronavirus & Virtual Annual Meetings,” may be a good solution for certain companies, other companies may determine (or due to a lack of vendor capacity may be forced to determine) that the better course of action for them is to postpone or adjourn their annual meetings.
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Confronting Sexual Harassment in Today’s Workplace: 8 Questions Companies Should Be Asking Themselves
In recent months, sexual harassment allegations against well-known figures across a growing number of industries have become a common feature in news headlines. In the wake of these allegations, many companies have concluded that their current policies and procedures related to sexual harassment and discrimination are inadequate. Against the backdrop of this rapidly evolving landscape,…