Executive Compensation

Executive pay in the midst of the pandemic presents an obvious dilemma.  On the one hand, it would be a stretch to blame fairly management teams for most of the adverse financial performance that will stretch across a broad range of industries.  On the other, they cannot escape the consequences either.

Consider that while stock values may bounce back for many companies in the reasonably short term, it is unlikely that business will quickly return to the status quo ante.  In some industries, the markets for products and services may change permanently; in other industries, supply chain and inventory management may also be permanently affected.  Not least, rank and file employees and other stakeholders across the economy will suffer.  Many executives will take short-term salary cuts in recognition of the hardship, but that is a preliminary and largely symbolic step and compensation committees need to find the right overall balance between reward and respect for the economic environment.
Continue Reading The Executive Pay Dilemma

The following post was originally included as part of our recently published memorandum “Selected Issues for Boards of Directors in 2020”.

Corporate Purpose

On August 19, 2019, the Business Roundtable released its latest Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation, emphasizing commitment to all stakeholders.[1] The Statement received a lot of attention

Recent changes in political climates, legal reforms and social norms have had varying (and sometimes conflicting) impacts on how companies are run; however, they have all contributed to a growing demand that companies expand their focus beyond shareholder value creation.

Environmental, social and governance concerns dominate shareholder proposals and engagement efforts, and discussions of corporate

Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code limits the deductibility of compensation paid by public companies to certain of their executives in any year to $1 million. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Job Act amended Section 162(m) to expand the number of executives at a public company whose compensation may be non-deductible by reason of

On November 22, 2019, the First Circuit Court of Appeals held in Sun Capital Partners III, LP, et al. v. New England Teamsters & Trucking Industry Pension Fund, that two private equity funds, Sun Capital Partners III, LP and Sun Capital Partners IV, LP were not liable for approximately $4.5 million in multiemployer pension

A week after Glass Lewis issued its 2020 proxy voting guidelines,[1] Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) released its final updates to its 2020 proxy voting policies.  The updated policies will be applied to shareholder meetings beginning on February 1, 2020, and the changes to U.S. polices are summarized below.
Continue Reading ISS Updates its 2020 Proxy Voting Policies

Glass Lewis recently released its 2020 proxy voting guidelines and shareholder initiatives.[1]  The following is a summary of Glass Lewis’ proposed changes and updates for 2020.  Most significantly, the updated guidelines reflect a response to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s recent announcement that it may decline to take a view or may respond orally to no-action requests for shareholder proposals under Rule 14a-8 of the Exchange Act.[2]  Starting in 2020, Glass Lewis generally will recommend a vote against members of a company’s governance committee if a company omits a shareholder proposal from its proxy statement without evidence of receiving no-action relief from the SEC, as described in more detail below.
Continue Reading Glass Lewis Updates Its 2020 Proxy Voting Guidelines

Vice Chancellor Slights, of the Delaware Court of Chancery, included a slightly self-effacing, and only slightly humorous, note in his recent opinion in a fiduciary claim against the directors of Tesla, Inc., to the effect that the defendants have reason to believe that they drew the wrong judge in the case.  The case relates to the 2018 incentive compensation award to Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, that caps out at about $55 billion (that “b” is not a typo).  The footnote concerns, in part, Vice Chancellor Slights’ determination, in a separate recent claim alleging fiduciary breaches by the Tesla board, that members of Tesla’s board were not independent.[1]
Continue Reading Update on Director Independence

On January 1, 2019, the German Act on the Strengthening of Company Pensions (Betriebsrentenstärkungsgesetz) leading to an amendment of the German Company Pensions Act (Betriebsrentengesetz), including its provisions regarding deferred compensation (Entgeltumwandlung), entered fully into force.

Deferred Compensation

Under the German Company Pensions Act, each employee is generally entitled to request from the employer that a certain part of the employee’s gross salary (up to an amount equal to 4% of the social security contribution ceiling (Beitragsbemessungsgrenze), i.e., currently EUR 3,216 per year) is used as deferred compensation for company pension purposes.  According to the newly implemented changes, employers are now obliged to provide their employees with an employer-paid top-up to the employees’ contributions to the deferred compensation. 
Continue Reading Changes to Deferred Compensation in Germany

In late March 2019, the Hertz Corporation and Hertz Global Holdings, Inc. (collectively, “Hertz”), filed two complaints (the “Damages Proceedings”) against its former CEO, CFO, General Counsel and a group president seeking recovery of $70 million in incentive payments and $200 million in consequential damages resulting from Hertz’s 2015 decision to restate its financial statements and an ensuing SEC settlement against Hertz and federal class action lawsuit (which was dismissed).  At the same time, the defendants in those actions each filed separate complaints (which have been consolidated in the Delaware Chancery Court) demanding advancement of their legal fees in the Damages Proceedings (the “Advancement Proceedings”).  The litigation between Hertz and its former executives raises novel questions about whether executives have a legally cognizable duty to set the right “tone at the top” and the consequences if they fail to do so.  The litigation also raises important and interesting questions regarding clawbacks and indemnification.[1]    
Continue Reading Hertz Pursues Novel Theory to Hold Former Management Team Personally Liable for Restatement and Ensuing Legal Proceedings