Skip to content

Page d’accueil | Inventaire des publications récentes et pertinentes dans le domaine de la gouvernance des entreprises, rédaction de billets sur ces activités, utilisation d’un outil de recherche très performant en fonction de thèmes et de catégories

Adapter le modèle de gouvernance à la réalité des OBNL de petite taille


Il est vrai que la réalité des organisations à but non lucratif (OBNL) est souvent assez éloignée des grands principes de gouvernance généralement reconnus.

Les différences principales portent essentiellement sur l’application rigoureuse de certains principes de gouvernance lorsque l’entreprise est à ses débuts ou en transition.

La distinction nette entre les activités des administrateurs et l’embryon de direction peut alors prendre une forme différente. Il est évident que pour les entreprises en démarrage, le rôle des administrateurs peut comprendre des tâches qui relèveraient normalement de la direction générale de l’entreprise.

Cependant, les administrateurs doivent toujours saisir qu’ils ont d’abord et avant tout un rôle de fiduciaire, ce qui rend leurs prestations d’autant plus délicates ! La gestion de conflits d’intérêts potentiels est à prévoir dans ces cas. Le président du conseil doit être très vigilant à cet égard.

Les administrateurs doivent accepter l’idée que l’organisation ne puisse survivre sans leur apport concret, en attendant la constitution d’une véritable structure de management avec l’embauche d’un directeur général ou d’une directrice générale.

Voici le témoignage de Sandra Dunham* qui a une longue expérience dans la direction des OBNL et qui a été invitée à contribuer au blogue de Imagine Canada.

Bonne lecture ! Ce billet est-il pertinent ? Avez-vous des interrogations ? Vos commentaires sont les bienvenus.

 

Modèles de gouvernance du CA : oser la différence !

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « obnl imagine canada »

 

 

Lorsque j’ai débuté dans mon tout premier poste de directrice générale à la fin des années 1990, tout le monde parlait du modèle de gouvernance de Carver. À l’époque, j’ignorais tout de l’existence même d’un « modèle de gouvernance ». Les adeptes de cette théorie l’étudiaient soigneusement, élaboraient des politiques et renseignaient leurs collègues-administrateurs à son sujet. Le modèle Carver était alors considéré comme le nec plus ultra des modèles de gouvernance.

Dans l’organisation à laquelle je me joignais alors, le directeur général sortant avait participé à une formation à ce sujet et avait suggéré aux administrateurs des façons de faire pour devenir un conseil d’administration (CA) conforme au modèle Carver. À mon arrivée, les membres avaient créé une multitude de règlements superflus à propos du fonctionnement du CA, soit en raison des informations relayées par l’ancien directeur général, soit en raison de l’interprétation qu’eux-mêmes en avaient faite ou en raison de l’expertise des nouveaux administrateurs.

Encore aujourd’hui, j’entends certains administrateurs décrire leur CA comme un « CA selon Carver », mais il est devenu beaucoup plus courant de parler d’un modèle de gouvernance par politiques. Malgré la multiplication des formations en gouvernance, les administrateurs ignorent souvent à quel type de CA s’identifier, et s’ils le savent, ils ne réussissent pas toujours à agir en fonction des caractéristiques du modèle choisi.

J’estime qu’il est grand temps pour les CA d’arrêter de vouloir travailler relativement à certaines catégories qui ne correspondent pas à leur réalité et de s’excuser de leur mode de fonctionnement. Ils devraient plutôt se concentrer sur les priorités qui s’imposent compte tenu de leur étape de développement et définir clairement leur rôle dans l’organisation.

Politiques, opérations et entre-deux

Presque tous les CA remplissent d’abord une fonction opérationnelle. Puisque très peu d’organismes comptent des employés dès le jour un de leur existence, les administrateurs doivent assurer le fonctionnement de l’organisation jusqu’à ce qu’un employé rémunéré ou un nombre suffisant de bénévoles se joignent à l’équipe et libèrent les administrateurs de cette tâche. Or, de nombreux CA continuent à assumer certaines tâches opérationnelles même après l’arrivée de personnel et laissent à ces derniers le soin de mettre en œuvre les programmes offerts par l’organisme.

Puis, généralement, au fur et à mesure qu’une organisation grandit et embauche une personne responsable de la gestion quotidienne des activités, les administrateurs prennent leurs distances avec ces aspects de l’organisation (comptabilité, ressources humaines, relations avec les donateurs, etc.) et commencent à se concentrer sur la définition d’orientations stratégiques, l’élaboration de politiques de gouvernance et l’embauche et l’encadrement de la personne la plus haut placée dans l’organisation, soit le directeur général ou la directrice générale. Idéalement, le CA se serait alors déjà doté de politiques qui clarifient les relations entre lui-même et cette personne à la tête de l’organisation.

Cependant, la transition entre ces deux catégories n’est pas un processus linéaire, parfait ou permanent, et il existe autant de bonnes que de mauvaises raisons incitant un CA à tergiverser entre le modèle opérationnel et le modèle par politiques. Voici quelques situations exemplaires :

Pendant les phases de transition, de croissance significative, de changement de mandat ou de menace importante pour l’organisation, un CA qui fonctionne selon le modèle de gouvernance par politiques peut être appelé à participer aux activités opérationnelles de l’organisation.

Certains administrateurs ne reconnaissent pas la valeur de la gouvernance par politiques et ne peuvent s’empêcher de s’ingérer dans les détails des activités opérationnelles.

Si un ou plusieurs administrateurs sont en conflit personnel avec la personne directrice générale, ils pourraient essayer de s’immiscer dans les activités opérationnelles dans une tentative de recueillir des arguments pour une destitution de cette personne.

Lorsque la personne à la tête de la direction générale ne fournit pas assez d’information aux administrateurs pour leur permettre de remplir leurs obligations fiduciaires, ces derniers peuvent décider de participer davantage aux activités opérationnelles pour s’assurer que l’organisation a les reins solides.

Si le CA a réalisé son mandat stratégique et n’est pas en mesure d’amorcer une réflexion visionnaire pour créer une nouvelle stratégie à long terme, ses membres pourraient, par défaut, se tourner vers l’aspect opérationnel du travail afin de s’assurer de leur propre pertinence.

Comment trouver le meilleur modèle pour son CA ?

Dans un monde idéal, les administrateurs et la personne à la tête de la direction générale recevraient une formation exhaustive en matière de gouvernance, adopteraient et respecteraient des politiques de gouvernance adéquates et réaliseraient une autoévaluation sur une base régulière afin de s’assurer que l’organisation continue de fonctionner conformément au modèle de gouvernance retenu. En réalité, la plupart des administrateurs, voire des directeurs généraux, apprennent la gouvernance « sur le tas ». Ils se fient souvent aux informations relayées par des administrateurs ayant siégé à d’autres CA, sans l’assurance que cette information est juste.

Les organisations dont les ressources leur permettent de se prévaloir d’une formation en gouvernance adaptée à leur contexte et leurs besoins devraient en profiter. Cette formation devrait d’abord reconnaître que le modèle de gouvernance par politiques n’est pas approprié pour tous les organismes sans but lucratif et qu’il existe des modèles hybrides, alliant gouvernance opérationnelle et gouvernance par politiques, qui se prêtent davantage à certaines organisations, surtout les petites.

Pour déterminer son rôle le plus approprié dans le contexte de l’organisation, un CA peut également réviser différentes normes de certification en matière de gouvernance, une méthode très efficace et qui demande peu de ressources. Ainsi, le programme de normes d’Imagine Canada est articulé autour des règles de gouvernance les plus importantes, en plus de présenter des normes différentes et adaptées pour les petites organisations.

Mon CA joue un grand rôle opérationnel, et alors ?

Je propose que les CA de petites organisations cessent de s’excuser pour la participation de leurs administrateurs aux activités opérationnelles, car il serait totalement illogique pour une organisation avec un budget de moins de 100 000 $ de suivre le même modèle de gouvernance qu’un hôpital ou une université. Or, souvent, on évalue ces petites organisations en fonction des mêmes critères applicables aux grandes.

Les administrateurs devraient utiliser les normes définies par un programme de certification pertinent pour la taille de leur organisation comme point de référence et de comparaison. S’ils peinent à respecter ces normes, ils peuvent demander de l’aide pour ajuster leur modèle de gouvernance. Si, par contre, ils respectent toutes les normes et si leur organisation fonctionne de manière efficace et réalise ses priorités stratégiques, ils ont toutes les raisons de se montrer fiers de leur travail, de reconnaître leur propre compétence à gérer une organisation en fonction de sa taille et de mettre en lumière tout le travail que les petites organisations réussissent à faire avec peu de moyens.


À propos de l’auteure

Sandra Dunham a à son actif plus de 30 ans d’expérience dans le secteur de la bienfaisance et sans but lucratif ainsi qu’une maîtrise en administration publique de l’Université Dalhousie obtenue alors qu’elle poursuivait une carrière déjà bien entamée. Sandra est la propriétaire unique de Streamline New Perspective Solutions, une boîte de consultation spécialisée en gestion et collecte de fonds dans le secteur caritatif. Nos auteurs invités s’expriment à titre personnel. Leurs opinions ne reflètent pas nécessairement celles d’Imagine Canada.

Les administrateurs de sociétés qui cumulent plusieurs postes deviennent-ils trop accaparés ?


Qu’est-ce qu’un administrateur très occupé en termes d’appartenance à plusieurs CA ? Quand un administrateur est-il trop occupé ?

À ce sujet, les études montrent que les avis des actionnaires sont partagés entre (1) un administrateur possédant une solide expérience sur la base de l’appartenance à plusieurs CA et (2) un administrateur trop accaparé par le fardeau qu’exige la contribution à plusieurs conseils.

Les administrateurs de sociétés publiques consacrent, en moyenne, 248 heures par année à leur travail, comparativement à 191 heures en 2005. Il s’agit d’une augmentation de 30 %. C’est 5 heures par semaine !

L’article de Wayne R. Guay, professeur de comptabilité à l’Université Wharton, explore la problématique sous tous ses angles.

« These results suggest that effective advising, as compared to effective monitoring, may rely more on director ability, whereby the latter may suffer more from director time constraints ».

Bonne lecture !

 

Busy Directors and Shareholder Satisfaction

 

 

 

The job of a corporate director has become increasingly time consuming. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the director of a public firm spends an average of 248 hours a year on each board, up from 191 hours in 2005. In light of this growing time demand, corporate directors face increasing investor scrutiny regarding the number of boards on which a given director sits. Prior research has examined the firm-level performance implications of corporate boards that have a large proportion of “busy” directors. However, there are several difficulties in these studies. In particular, firm-level analysis masks important heterogeneity in the time constraints and the expertise benefits of busy directors. For example, sitting on three boards might be excessive for a director with a full-time job, but it might be reasonable, or even optimal, for an individual who is retired. Also, certain firms (e.g., less experienced firms) may benefit more from the expertise and advising of a busy director. Furthermore, there may be omitted firm-level characteristics that are driving both director busyness and firm performance, which suggests that an observed positive (negative) association between director busyness and good (poor) firm performance does not necessarily imply that busy directors are beneficial (detrimental) to shareholders.

In our paper, Busy Directors and Shareholder Satisfaction, we move away from firm-level tests of the performance of busy boards, and instead examine the relations between individual busy directors, their heterogeneous characteristics, and shareholder satisfaction. To measure shareholder satisfaction, we use shareholder voting outcomes in annual director elections. Our approach has several distinctive features that allow us to overcome the difficulties of prior studies. First, shareholder voting is measured at the director-level which allows us to incorporate individual director characteristics into our analysis. Second, we use “within-firm-year” and “within-director-year” research designs. The within-firm-year design uses variation in shareholder voting for directors at a given firm within a given year. This allows us to fully account for the confounding effects of firm characteristics that may be present in prior analyses. The within-director-year design uses variation in firm characteristics among the boards on which a director sits in a given year. This approach allows us to identify differences in shareholder satisfaction across different types of firms for the same director in a given year, and thus can help isolate the heterogeneity in the effect of busyness as a function of firm characteristics.

On average, shareholders perceive that the costs of busy directors exceed their benefits. The percentage of “For” votes that a busy director receives is, on average, about one percentage point lower than that of a non-busy director. This is 28% of the standard deviation of within-board shareholder voting across firms. Importantly, this drop in shareholder satisfaction for busy directors holds when controlling for various observable director characteristics, such as age, tenure, gender, retirement status and committee membership, and all observable and unobservable firm characteristics through the within-firm-year design. This distinguishes our finding from firm-level analysis of busy boards which do not fully control for individual director characteristics and unobservable firm characteristics. The result also holds when controlling for the influence of proxy advisory firm recommendations, indicating that shareholders appear to penalize busyness over and beyond ISS policy recommendations. Moreover, the effect of director busyness on shareholder satisfaction is stronger in the second half of our sample period, which is consistent with common perceptions that time demands for directors have increased in recent years.

We next examine the heterogeneity among individual busy directors and whether “busyness” is more or less acceptable to shareholders for certain types of directors. Clearly, one of the primary concerns with a busy director is the time constraints that multiple directorships can impose on the individual’s ability to diligently monitor and advise management. Across an array of proxies for director time constraints, we find strong evidence that busy directors with greater (lesser) external time demands receive lower (higher) shareholder satisfaction. Specifically, we find that busy directors who are retired from full-time employment receive greater shareholder satisfaction, while busy directors who are executives at another firm receive lower satisfaction. Busy directors also receive lower shareholder satisfaction when a greater proportion of their boards have the same fiscal-year-end (FYE) month. Boards with the same FYE month are likely to be busy at similar times during the year, which increases the time constraints of directors serving on those boards. Finally, directors receive lower satisfaction when they serve on a greater number of external board committees (e.g., audit, compensation, nominating).

Our final set of tests, using the within-director-year design, examines how the expertise benefit of busy directors varies as a function of a firm’s advising and monitoring needs. Adams et al. (2010) suggest that busy directors are of a “higher quality” than non-busy directors, which presumably comes from some combination of their greater skill, experience or wider network of contacts. These traits can improve the ability of a director to provide useful advice and/or monitor executive behavior (Coles et al., 2012). At the same time, busy directors may be “spread too thin” to effectively provide executives with detailed guidance or to engage in the due diligence necessary to effectively monitor management (Fich and Shivdasani, 2006). Consequently, the advising and monitoring effectiveness of busy directors is an empirical question, which may vary across firms depending on the demands for these roles from directors.

Using the within-director-year design, we are able to examine whether certain firms (e.g., less experienced firms) may benefit more from the expertise and advising of the same busy director. This design allows us to isolate the differences in shareholder satisfaction for busy directors that arise from firm advising and monitoring needs, rather than director characteristics. We find that shareholders are more supportive of busy directors at younger firms and firms with greater growth opportunities (firms predicted to demand more advising), and are less supportive at firms where CEOs hold less equity (firms predicted to demand more monitoring). These results suggest that effective advising, as compared to effective monitoring, may rely more on director ability, whereby the latter may suffer more from director time constraints.

Collectively, our results provide insight on the longstanding debate about busy directors’ performance and the tradeoffs between their potentially higher ability and tighter time constraints. Our results also suggest that shareholder voting is more nuanced than documented in prior studies (e.g., Cai et al., 2009). In particular, we find that shareholders are quite sophisticated with their director voting in that they appear to respond to director-specific variation in time constraints (e.g., number of additional boards, employment characteristics, overlapping fiscal-year ends for board responsibilities, committee responsibilities). Shareholders also seem to recognize that busy directors may be more beneficial when the firm has relatively high advising needs.

The complete paper is available for download here

Compte rendu hebdomadaire de la Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance | 12 janvier 2018


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance corporative au 12 janvier 2018.

Cette semaine, j’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Bonne lecture !

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « Harvard Law School forum on corporate governance »

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « Harvard Law School forum on corporate governance »

 

  1. Tax Reform Implications for U.S. Businesses and Foreign Investments
  2. Ineffective Stockholder Approval for Director Equity Awards
  3. Does Size Matter? Bailouts with Large and Small Banks
  4. Raising the Stakes on Board Gender Diversity
  5. Managing the Family Firm: Evidence from CEOs at Work
  6. Compensation Season 2018
  7. Pay-for-Performance Mechanics
  8. CEO Gender and Corporate Board Structures
  9. Activist Investing in Europe—2017 Edition
  10. Political Uncertainty and Cross-Border Acquisition

Quelle est l’influence des femmes CEO sur la structure de gouvernance des entreprises ?


Ceux qui se posent des questions sur l’influence que peut avoir une femme CEO sur la structure de gouvernance des entreprises seront certainement très intéressés par cette recherche de Melissa B. Frye, professeure de finance à l’University of Central Florida, et Duong T. Pham, professeur de finance à la Georgia Southern University.

L’étude montre que bien qu’il y ait encore peu de femmes qui occupent ces positions de pouvoir (5,4 % du S&P 500), il y a une différence significative dans les comportements des CEO masculins et féminins eu égard aux structures de gouvernance qui résultent de leurs actions managériales.

L’analyse des données en surprendra assurément plusieurs. En ce qui me concerne, c’est la première fois que je constate une telle évidence dans les comportements associés au genre.

Voici donc comment les auteurs résument les résultats de leur recherche :

« Using a sample of publicly traded firms in the U.S., we focus specifically on board characteristics that alter the efficiency of the monitoring of the board and are also influenced by the CEO. To capture monitoring intensity we use board size, board independence, the ratio of inside to outside directors, the gender diversity of the board, the board network, director age, interlocking directors, board attendance, and an aggregate board monitoring measure. We find that female CEOs are associated with boards of directors that are smaller, consist of more independent directors, have a lower ratio of inside to outside directors, are more gender diversified, have a broader director network, are composed of younger directors and are in general structured for more intense monitoring of the CEOs relative to the industry median, consistent with our first hypothesis ».

Toute étude comporte son lot de forces et faiblesses. Dans le cas de cette recherche quels sont vos questionnements et vos commentaires ?

Bonne lecture !

 

CEO Gender and Corporate Board Structures

 

 

In our article, CEO Gender and Corporate Board Structure (forthcoming in the Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance), we investigate the relationship between the gender of the CEO and corporate board structures. In recent years, women have made strides in cracking the glass ceiling in leadership positions in corporate America. Female CEOs have been appointed not only in female-friendly industries such as healthcare and consumer products but also in fields that are traditionally dominated by their male counterparts such as energy, utilities or automotive. The number of female CEOs leading S&P 500 companies reached a record high in 2016 with 27 women at the helm of these firms. However, women CEOs only make up 5.4% of the total S&P 500 CEO positions.

A growing body of academic research in finance shows that gender matters in terms of value enhancing decision making. Studies have documented that male executives carry out more acquisitions and issue more debt than their female counterparts, consistent with men being more overconfident than women and less effective corporate decision makers. Research has also shown that firms run by female CEOs have lower leverage, less volatile earnings, and a higher chance of survival than male CEO firms.

Since corporate governance helps mitigate agency conflicts between managers and shareholders of the firm, a good governance system is believed to enhance firm value. In our study, we focus on what is viewed as the most important governance mechanism for shareholders. The board of directors are trusted with monitoring and advising the firm’s management and protecting shareholders’ interests. While the literature has explored mechanisms that are associated with effective governance, the question of whether behavioral differences, associated with the gender of the CEO, play a role in shaping monitoring structures has not been addressed. Thus, we examine whether the “woman effect” in corporate decisions and performance extends to board structures. Essentially, we explore whether behavioral differences between men and women may lead to different board structures.

Whether female CEOs are associated with boards structured for more or less monitoring is an empirical question. To explore this, we consider three hypotheses based on documented behavioral differences between males and females. First, female CEOs may establish boards with greater monitoring. The channel between more board monitoring and gender comes from the literature on negotiations, overconfidence, and stereotyping. Several prior studies report that women perform worse than men at the negotiation table. Basic agency theory would suggest that all CEOs prefer less monitoring. Thus, if females are less savvy negotiators, they may not bargain as effectively with respect to board structure. Likewise, differences in overconfidence may lead to greater board monitoring. A male CEO may overestimate his ability and underestimate the role of board monitoring, thus he may seek to reduce board monitoring relative to a less overconfident female CEO. Stereotyping and/or discrimination on the part of the board may motivate directors to force stricter monitoring on a female CEO. Second, we consider that gender-based differences may lead to less monitoring of female CEOs. The conduit for less board monitoring for female CEOs comes from the perception that women leaders would simply need less monitoring. The overconfidence theory may suggest that boards would be less inclined to intensely monitor female CEOs, since women leaders may make better decisions. Third, it is also possible that male and female CEOs will not differ in terms of board structures. Essentially, females that make it to the top of a publicly traded firm may exhibit very similar behavioral characteristics as their male counterparts.

Using a sample of publicly traded firms in the U.S., we focus specifically on board characteristics that alter the efficiency of the monitoring of the board and are also influenced by the CEO. To capture monitoring intensity we use board size, board independence, the ratio of inside to outside directors, the gender diversity of the board, the board network, director age, interlocking directors, board attendance, and an aggregate board monitoring measure. We find that female CEOs are associated with boards of directors that are smaller, consist of more independent directors, have a lower ratio of inside to outside directors, are more gender diversified, have a broader director network, are composed of younger directors and are in general structured for more intense monitoring of the CEOs relative to the industry median, consistent with our first hypothesis.

In general, we provide strong evidence that female CEOs are associated with boards of directors that are significantly different in structure from their male counterparts. Our results are consistent with gender-based behavioral differences in negotiation, overconfidence, and/or discrimination leading to greater board monitoring at female-led firms. Prior literature shows that better governance is viewed positively by the market and leads to better performance. Activists and regulators also put significant weight on effective monitoring. In light of this, our study supports the push to increase the number of women leaders. Our findings suggest female CEOs welcome board monitoring and stronger governance structures.

The complete article is available for download here.

La souveraineté des conseils d’administration


Je partage avec vous une excellente prise de position d’Yvan Allaire et de Michel Nadeau, respectivement président et directeur général de l’Institut de la gouvernance (IGOPP), que j’appuie totalement. Cet article a été publié dans Le Devoir du 6 janvier 2018.

Il est impératif que le conseil d’administration, qui est le fiduciaire des parties intéressées, conserve son rôle de gardien de la bonne gouvernance des organisations. Les règles de gouvernance sont fondées sur le fait que le conseil d’administration est l’instance souveraine.

Comme le disent clairement les auteurs : « La gouvernance des sociétés repose sur une pierre angulaire : le conseil d’administration, qui tire sa légitimité et sa crédibilité de son élection par les membres, les actionnaires ou les sociétaires de l’organisation. Il est l’ultime organe décisionnel, l’instance responsable de l’imputabilité et de la reddition de comptes. Tous les comités du conseil créés à des fins spécifiques sont consultatifs pour le conseil ».

Cet article est court et précis ; il met l’accent sur certaines caractéristiques du projet de loi 141 qui mine la légitimité du conseil d’administration et qui sont potentiellement dommageable pour la cohésion et la responsabilisation des membres du conseil.

Je vous en souhaite bonne lecture ; n’hésitez pas à nous faire connaître votre opinion.

 

Projet de loi 141: les conseils d’administration doivent demeurer responsables

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « projet de loi 141 »

Projet de loi 141

 

 

Dans son projet de loi visant principalement à améliorer l’encadrement du secteur financier, le ministre des Finances du Québec a mis la barre haute en proposant quelque 2000 modifications législatives touchant l’ensemble des institutions d’assurance, de dépôts et de fiducie relevant de l’État québécois.

Le texte de 488 pages soulèvera de nombreuses questions, notamment chez les intermédiaires financiers lors de la commission parlementaire des 16 et 17 janvier prochains. En tant qu’experts en gouvernance, nous sommes très préoccupés par certains articles du projet de loi qui enlèvent aux conseils d’administration des institutions des pouvoirs qui leur sont reconnus par la loi québécoise et canadienne sur les sociétés par actions. De plus, certaines propositions du projet de loi risquent de semer la confusion quant au devoir de loyauté des membres du conseil envers l’organisation.

La gouvernance des sociétés repose sur une pierre angulaire : le conseil d’administration, qui tire sa légitimité et sa crédibilité de son élection par les membres, les actionnaires ou les sociétaires de l’organisation. Il est l’ultime organe décisionnel, l’instance responsable de l’imputabilité et de la reddition de comptes. Tous les comités du conseil créés à des fins spécifiques sont consultatifs pour le conseil.

Arrangements insoutenables

De façon sans précédent, le projet de loi 141 impose aux conseils d’administration l’obligation de « confier à certains administrateurs qu’il désigne ou à un comité de ceux-ci les responsabilités de veiller au respect des saines pratiques commerciales et des pratiques de gestion saine et prudente et à la détection des situations qui leur sont contraires ».

À quelles informations ce « comité » aurait-il accès, lesquelles ne seraient pas connues d’un comité d’audit normal ? En quoi cette responsabilité dévolue à un nouveau comité est-elle différente de la responsabilité qui devrait incomber au comité d’audit ?

Le projet de loi stipule que dès que le comité prévu prend connaissance d’une situation qui entraîne une détérioration de la situation financière (un fait qui aurait échappé au comité d’audit ?), qui est contraire aux pratiques de gestion saine et prudente ou qui est contraire aux saines pratiques commerciales, il doit en aviser le conseil d’administration par écrit. Le conseil d’administration doit alors voir à remédier promptement à la situation. Si la situation mentionnée à cet avis n’a pas été corrigée selon le jugement de l’administrateur ou du comité, celui-ci doit transmettre à l’Autorité une copie de cet avis.

Le conseil d’administration pourrait, soudainement et sans avoir été prévenu, apprendre que l’AMF frappe à la porte de l’institution parce que certains de leurs membres sont d’avis que le conseil dans son ensemble n’a pas corrigé à leur satisfaction certaines situations jugées inquiétantes.

Ces nouveaux arrangements de gouvernance sont insoutenables. Ils créent une classe d’administrateurs devant agir comme chiens de garde du conseil et comme délateurs des autres membres du conseil. Une telle gouvernance rendrait impossibles la nécessaire collégialité et l’égalité entre les membres d’un même conseil.

Cette forme de gouvernance, inédite et sans précédent, soulève la question fondamentale de la confiance dont doit jouir un conseil quant à sa capacité et à sa volonté de corriger d’éventuelles situations préoccupantes.

Comité d’éthique

Le projet de loi 141 semble présumer qu’un comportement éthique requiert la création d’un comité d’éthique. Ce comité devra veiller à l’adoption de règles de comportement et de déontologie, lesquelles seront transmises à l’AMF. Le comité avise, par écrit et sans délai, le conseil d’administration de tout manquement à celles-ci.

Le projet de loi 141 obligera le comité d’éthique à transmettre annuellement à l’Autorité des marchés un rapport de ses activités, incluant la liste des situations de conflit d’intérêts, les mesures prises pour veiller à l’application des règles et les manquements observés. Le texte de ce projet de loi devrait plutôt se lire ainsi : « Le Comité d’éthique soumet son rapport annuel au conseil d’administration, qui en fait parvenir copie à l’AMF dans les deux mois suivant la clôture de l’exercice. »

Encore une fois, c’est vraiment mal comprendre le travail des comités que d’imputer à ceux-ci des responsabilités « décisionnelles » qui ne devraient relever que du conseil dans son ensemble.

L’ensemble des textes législatifs sur la gouvernance des organisations ne laisse place à aucune ambiguïté : la loyauté d’un membre du conseil est d’abord envers son organisme. Or, le projet de loi instaure un mécanisme de dénonciation auprès de l’AMF. Insatisfait d’une décision de ses collègues ou de leur réaction à une situation donnée, un administrateur devrait ainsi renoncer à son devoir de loyauté et de confidentialité pour choisir la route de la dénonciation en solo.

L’administrateur ne devrait pas se prévaloir de ce régime de dénonciation, mais livrer bataille dans le cadre prévu à cette fin : le conseil. Agir autrement est ouvrir la porte à des manœuvres douteuses qui mineront la cohésion et la solidarité nécessaire au sein de l’équipe du CA. Si la majorité des administrateurs ne partagent pas l’avis de ce valeureux membre, celui-ci pourra démissionner du conseil en informant l’Autorité des motifs de sa démission, comme l’exige le projet de loi 141.

Le projet de loi 141 doit être amendé pour conserver aux conseils d’administration l’entière responsabilité du fonctionnement de la bonne gouvernance des organismes visés par le projet de loi.

Compte rendu hebdomadaire de la Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance | 4 janvier 2018


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance corporative au 4 janvier 2018.

Cette semaine, j’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Bonne lecture !

 

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « Harvard Law School forum on corporate governance »

 

 

 

  1. Venture Capital Investments and Merger and Acquisition Activity around the World
  2. Global and Regional Trends in Corporate Governance for 2018
  3. Why Do Some Companies Leave? Evidence on the Factors that Drive InversionsRésultats de recherche d'images pour « Harvard Law School forum on corporate governance »
  4. Globalization and Executive Compensation
  5. Analysis of Fund Voting at Utilities Companies
  6. Corporate Governance Survey—2017 Proxy Season
  7. Opportunity Makes a Thief: Corporate Opportunities as Legal Transplant and Convergence in Corporate Law
  8. Top 10 Topics for Directors in 2018
  9. How Director Age Influences Corporate Performance
  10. The Changing Landscape of Auditor Litigation and Its Implication for Audit Quality

Enquête de Deloitte sur la diversité des conseils d’administration


Il existe une solide unanimité sur l’importance d’accroître la diversité dans les conseils d’administration.

Mike Fucci, président du conseil de Deloitte, nous présente une excellente infographie* sur le sujet.

Voici un sommaire des thèmes traités dans son article, paru dans Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance.

(1) Perception de la diversité dans les conseils d’administration

Les CA sont d’accord avec la nécessité d’une grande diversité

Les leaders perçoivent clairement les bienfaits de la diversité

Cependant, il y a peu d’administrateurs qui voient le manque de diversité comme un problème majeur !

(2) Recrutement et pratiques d’évaluation

Les CA s’en remettent trop souvent aux critères traditionnels de sélection des administrateurs (grande expérience de management ou de PDG)

Environ la moitié des organisations qui ont des plans de relève n’ont pas de processus de recrutement comportant des habiletés liées à la diversité

Presque toutes les organisations sont conscientes que les politiques concernant la limitation du nombre de mandats et de l’âge sont nécessaires pour assurer le renouvellement du CA

Cependant, les pratiques utilisées semblent limiter la diversité

(3) Nouveau modèle de gouvernance — la mixtocratie

Atteindre un équilibre entre l’expérience souhaitée et la diversité requise

Nécessité de revoir la notion de risque

Faire la promotion du modèle de diversité

Revoir systématiquement la composition du conseil

Redynamiser la planification de la relève

Avoir des objectifs clairs de diversité

 

L’infographie présentée parle d’elle-même. Bonne lecture !

 

 

2017 Board Diversity Survey

 

 

 

 

 

Part 1. Perceptions of board diversity

 

The findings in this section show that the survey found nearly universal agreement on the need for diverse skill sets and perspectives on the board, and on the potential benefits of diversity.

 

Boards agree on the need for diversity

 

Note, however, that this finding does not reveal where diversity of skill sets and perspectives are needed. Thus, the skills and perspectives could be those of, say, financial or operating or information
technology executives. Such backgrounds would represent diversity of skills and perspectives, but not the demographic diversity that the term “diversity” usually implies.

Demographic diversity remains an essential goal in that gender and racial differences are key determinates of a person’s experiences, attitudes, frame of reference, and point of view.

As the next finding reveals, however, respondents do not see demographic diversity as enough.

 

Board members see diversity as going beyond basic demographics

 

Nine in ten respondents agree that gender and racial diversity alone does not produce the diversity required for an organization to be innovative or disruptive. This may be surprising, given that gender and racial differences are generally seen as contributing to diverse perspectives. Yet those contributions may be tempered if recruiting and selection methods skew toward candidates with the backgrounds and experiences of white males with executive experience.

More to the point, it would be unfortunate if a focus on diversity of skills and perspectives were to undermine or cloud the focus on gender and racial diversity. In fact, typical definitions of board diversity include a demographic component. Deloitte’s 2016 Board Practices Report found that 53 percent of large-cap and 45 percent of mid-cap organizations disclose gender data on their board’s diversity; the respective numbers for racial diversity are, far lower, however: 18 percent and 9 percent. [1]

So, the deeper questions may be these: How does the board go about defining diversity? Does its definition include gender and racial factors? Does it also include factors such as skills, experiences, and perspectives? Will the board’s practices enable it to achieve diversity along these various lines?

Before turning to practices, we consider the potential benefits of diversity.

 

Leaders overwhelmingly perceive benefits in diversity

 


Taken at face value, these answers indicate that boards believe in diversity, however they go about defining it, for business reasons and not just for its own sake or reasons of social responsibility.

 

…Yet relatively few see a lack of diversity as a top problem

 

The foregoing findings show that leaders believe that boards need greater diversity of skills and perspectives, that demographic diversity alone may not produce that diversity, and that diversity is seen as beneficial in managing innovation, disruption, and business performance. Yet, somewhat surprisingly, few respondents cited a lack of diversity as a top problem.

So, while 95 percent of respondents agree that their board needs to seek out more candidates with diverse skills and perspectives, far smaller percentages cite lack of diversity as among the top problems they face in candidate recruitment or selection.

Does this reflect contentment with current board composition and acceptance of the status quo?

Perhaps, or perhaps not.

However, we can say that many board recruitment and selection practices remain very traditional.

 

Part 2. Recruitment and evaluation practices

 

Board recruitment practices have arguably not kept pace with the desire and need for greater board diversity.

 

Boards still rely on traditional candidate criteria

 

In addition, 81 percent of respondents would expect multiple board members to see a candidate without executive experience as unqualified to serve on the board.

The low percentage of women candidates (16 percent) is striking, as is that of racial minorities (19 percent). However, that may be a logical outcome of a process favoring selecting candidates with board experience—who historically have tended to be white and male.

So, in the recruitment process, board members are often seeking people who tend to be like themselves—and like management. Such a process may help to reinforce a lack of diversity in perspectives and experiences, as well as (in most companies) in gender and race.

Relying on resumes, which reflect organizational and educational experience, helps to reinforce traditional patterns of board composition.

 

About half of organizations have processes focused on diverse skills and disruptive views

 

Given all their other responsibilities, many boards understandably rely on existing recruitment tools and processes. They use resumes, their networks, and executive recruiters—all of which tend to generate results very similar to past results.

However, our current disruptive environment likely calls for more creative approaches to reaching diverse candidates. Some organizations have taken steps to address these needs.

 

Our survey did not assess the nature or extent of the processes for recruiting candidates with diverse skills or perspectives, indicating an area for further investigation.

 

Policies affecting board refreshment

 

Policies, as well as processes, can affect board composition. Low turnover on boards can not only hinder movement toward greater diversity but also lead to myopic views of operations or impaired ability to oversee evolving strategies and risks.

While board members expressed agreement with term and age limits, the latter are far more common. Our separate 2016 Board Practices Report found that 81 percent of large-cap and 74 percent of mid-cap companies have age limits, but only 5 percent and 6 percent, respectively, have term limits. [2] This evidences a large gap between agreement with term limits as an idea and term limits as a practice.

 

Current practices tend to limit diversity

 

Deloitte’s 2016 Board Practices Report also found that 84 percent of large-cap and 90 percent of mid-cap organizations most often rely on current directors’ recommendations of candidates. [3] That same study found that 68 percent and 79 percent, respectively, use a recruiting firm when needed, and that 62 percent and 79 percent use a board skills matrix or similar tool.

Relying on current directors’ recommendations will generally produce candidates much like those directors. Recruiting firms can be valuable, but tend to adopt the client’s view of diversity. Tools such as board competency matrices generally do not account for an organization’s strategy, nor do they provide a very nuanced view of individual board members’ experiences and capabilities. In other words, bringing people with diverse skills, perspectives, and experiences to the board—as well as women and racial and ethnic minorities—requires more robust processes than those currently used by most boards.

 

Part 3. A path forward—The Mixtocracy Model

 

The term meritocracy describes organizational advancement based upon merit—talents and accomplishments—and aims to combat the nepotism and cronyism that traditionally permeated many businesses. However, too often meritocracy results in mirrortocracy in which all directors bring similar perspectives and approaches to governance, risk management, and other board responsibilities.

A board differs from a position, such as chief executive officer or chief financial officer, in that it is a collection of individuals. A board is a team and, like any other team, it requires people who can fulfill specific roles, contribute different skills and views, and work together to achieve certain goals.

Thus, a board can include nontraditional members who will be balanced out by more traditional ones. Many existing recruiting methods do too little to achieve true diversity. The prevalence of those criteria and methods can repeatedly send boards back to the same talent pool, even in the case of women and minority candidates. For example, Deloitte’s 2016 Board Diversity Census shows that female and black directors are far more likely than white male directors to hold multiple Fortune 500 board seats. [4]

Therefore, organizations should consider institutionalizing a succession planning and recruitment process that more closely aligns to their ideal board composition and diversity goals. Here are three ways to potentially do that:

 Look beyond “the tried and true.” Even when boards account for gender and race, current practices may tend to source candidates with similar views. Succession plans should create seats for those who are truly different, for example someone with no board experience but a strong cybersecurity background or someone who more closely mirrors the customer base.

Take a truly analytical approach. Developing the optimal mix on the board calls for considering risks, opportunities, and markets, as well as customers, employees, and other stakeholders. A data-driven analytics tool that assesses management’s strategies, the board’s needs, and desired director attributes can help define the optimal mix in light of those factors.

Use more sophisticated criteria. Look beyond resumes and check-the-box approaches to recruiting women, minorities, and those with the right title. Surface-level diversity will not necessarily generate varying perspectives and innovative responses to disruption. Deep inquiry into a candidate’s outlook, experience, and fit can take the board beyond standard criteria, while prompting the board to more fully consider women and minority candidates—that is, to not see them mainly as women and minority candidates.

To construct and maintain a board that can meet evolving governance, advisory, and risk oversight needs, leaders should also consider the following steps.

 

Rethink risk

 

Digitalization continues to disrupt the business landscape. The ability to not only respond to disruption, but to proactively disrupt, has commonly become a must. Yet boards have historically focused on loss prevention rather than value creation. Every board should ask itself who best can help in ascertaining that management is taking the right risks to innovate and win in the marketplace. The more diversity of thought, perspectives, experiences, and skills a board collectively possesses, the better it can oversee moves into riskier territory in an informed and useful way—and to assist management in making bold decisions that are likely to pay off.

 

Elevate diversity

 

Current definitions of board diversity tend to focus on at-birth traits, such as gender and race. While such diversity is essential, it may promote a check-the-box approach to gender and racial diversity. Boards that include those traits and also enrich them by considering differences gained through employment paths, industry experiences, educational, artistic, and cultural endeavors, international living, and government, military, and other service will more likely achieve a true mix of perspectives
and capabilities.

They may also develop a more holistic vision of gender and racial diversity. After all, woman and minority board members do not want to be “women and minority board members”—they want to be board members. In other words, this approach should aim to generate a fuller view of candidates and board members, as well as more diversity of skills and perspectives and gender and race.

 

Retool board composition

 

Current tools for achieving an optimal mix of directors can generally be classified as simplistic, generic, and outdated. They often help in organizing information, but provide little to no support in identifying strategic needs and aligning a board’s skills, perspectives, and experiences with those needs.

Successful board composition typically demands analysis of data on organizational strategies, customer demographics, industry disruption, and market trends to identify gaps and opportunities. A board should consider not only individual member’s profiles but also assess the board as one working body to ascertain that complementary characteristics and capabilities are in place or can be put in place.

A tool to support this analysis should be the initial input into the succession planning and recruitment process. It should also be used in ongoing assessments to help ensure that the board equals a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

 

Revitalize succession planning

 

The process of filling an open board position may be seen as similar to that for recruiting C-suite candidates. But that would ignore the fact that the board is a collection of individuals rather than a single role. An approach geared to creating a mixtocracy can strengthen the board by combining individual differences in a deliberate manner. Differing gender and ethnic backgrounds as well as skills, perspectives, and experiences can make for more rigorous, far-reaching, and thought-provoking discussions, inquiries, and challenges. This can enable the board to provide a more effective counterbalance to management as well as better support in areas such as innovation, disruption, and assessments of strategies, decisions, and underlying assumptions.

In plans for board succession, the uniqueness of thought an individual will bring to the table can be as important as his or her more ostensible characteristics and accomplishments.

 

Toward greater board diversity

 

Given its responsibility to provide guidance on strategy, oversight of risk, governance of practices, and protection of shareholders’ interests, the board arguably has a greater need for diversity than the C-suite, where diversity also enriches management. The path forward remains long, but it is becoming increasing clear as boards continue to work toward achieving greater diversity on multiple fronts.

____________________________________

Endnotes

1 2016 Boards Practices Report – A transparent look at the work of the board. Tenth edition, 2017, Society for Corporate Governance and Deloitte Development LLC.(go back)

2 ibid.(go back)

3 ibid.(go back)

4 Missing Pieces Report: The 2016 Board Diversity Census of Women and Minorities on Fortune 500 Boards, 2017, Deloitte Development LLC.(go back)


*The 2017 board diversity survey was conducted in spring 2017 among 300 board members and C-suite executives at U.S. companies with at least $50 million in annual revenue and at least 1,000 employees. Conducted by Wakefield Research via an email invitation and online questionnaire, the survey sought to ascertain respondents’ perspectives on board diversity and their organizations’ criteria and practices for recruiting and selecting board members. The margin of error for this study is +/- 5.7 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

Dix thèmes prioritaires à mettre à l’ordre du jour des Boards en 2018


Aujourd’hui, je partage avec vous un article de Kerry E. Berchem et Christine B. LaFollette, associés de la firme Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, qui donne un aperçu des principales préoccupations des CA en 2018.

Ce qui est intéressant, outre les thèmes choisis, c’est l’impact de l’agenda de l’administration Trump sur la gouvernance des sociétés, notamment les points suivants :

– Assouplissements de la réglementation de la SEC ;

– Applications des directives de la SEC, en autres les efforts de remplacement de la réforme Dodd-Frank ;

– Nouveaux échanges commerciaux et applications de sanctions plus sévères ;

– La réforme de la fiscalité.

Bonne lecture ! Vos commentaires sont les bienvenus.

 

Top 10 Topics for Directors in 2018

 

1. Cybersecurity threats.

Cybersecurity preparedness is essential in 2018 as the risk of, and associated adverse impact of, breaches continue to rise. The past year redefined the upward bounds of the megabreach, including the Yahoo!, Equifax and Uber hacks, and the SEC cyber-attack. As Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Co-Directors of Enforcement Stephanie Avakian and Steven Peikin warned, “The greatest threat to our markets right now is the cyber threat.” No crisis should go to waste. Boards should learn from others’ misfortunes and focus on governance, crisis management and recommended best practices relating to cyber issues.

2. Corporate social responsibility.

By embracing corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, boards are able to proactively identify and address legal, financial, operational and reputational risks in a way that can increase the company value to all stakeholders-investors, shareholders, employees and consumers. Boards should invest in CSR programming as an integral element of company risk assessment and compliance programs, and should advocate public reporting of CSR initiatives. Such initiatives can serve as both differentiating and value-enhancing factors. According to recent studies, companies with strong CSR practices are less likely to suffer large price declines, and they tend to have better three- to five-year returns on equity, as well as a greater chance of long-term success.

3. Managing five generations of employees.

In the coming years, employers will face the unprecedented challenge of having five generations of employees in the workplace. Companies and their boards can help address these tensions by better understanding employee expectations, encouraging cross-generation mentorship, and setting an example of generational diversity with respect to company leadership and members of the board. If managed correctly, boards and companies alike can benefit from the wisdom, collaboration and innovation that comes with generational diversity.

4. Corporate strategy.

Strategic planning with a particular focus on potential acquisitions should continue to be a high priority for boards in 2018. Boards should expect to face conflicting pressures, since shareholders will expect companies to invest in both long-term growth opportunities and short-term stock enhancement measures, including the deployment of excess cash for stock buybacks. Cross-border transactions will likely continue to be attractive options, subject to increased regulatory scrutiny in certain industries and of certain buyers.

5. Board composition.

Board diversity is being actively considered and encouraged by regulators, corporate governance groups and investors, both in the United States and internationally, and the current focus on board diversity is likely to continue. Companies should review the applicable diversity-related obligations in their jurisdictions and assess their current board composition, director search and nomination process, board refreshment practices and diversity policies.

6. Shareholder activism.

Shareholder activism has entrenched itself in the modern climate of corporate governance. In particular, shareholder activists have entered industries that, until recently, have generally steered clear of such investors, including the energy sector. There is an increased emphasis by prominent investors on challenging transactions, corporate strategy and traditional corporate governance concerns, such as board composition and staggered boards.

7. Internal investigations.

Boards are increasingly confronted with the possibility of wrongdoing implicating the company or its employees. The decision whether or not to undertake an independent internal investigation, and how, requires careful consideration and consultation with counsel, since the response of the board will have important implications for the ultimate effects on the company.

8. SEC regulatory relief.

We expect that the Trump administration and the Republican-led U.S. Congress will advance reforms in 2018 designed to encourage companies toward public ownership and to facilitate capital formation in both public and private markets. Although smaller companies will likely be the greatest beneficiaries of the proposals currently being considered, many proposals are expected to also benefit large public companies-by eliminating certain duplicative and nonmaterial disclosure requirements and by addressing concerns regarding shareholder proposals.

9. SEC enforcement.

In addition to new leadership at the SEC, ambitious legislative proposals in Congress and further developments in insider trading law have the potential to impact SEC enforcement, although certain enforcement streams, such as accounting and other disclosure-related investigations, are likely to remain largely unchanged. The SEC’s own cyber breach has brought renewed focus at the agency on information security and the integrity of trading systems. Efforts to repeal Dodd-Frank have also advanced through both chambers of Congress.

10. Trade and sanctions.

During the first year of the Trump administration, U.S. sanctions were expanded significantly to include complex new restrictions that target transactions with Iran, Russia, North Korea and Venezuela, among others. Additionally, there has been an uptick in sanctions enforcement actions, including a continued focus by U.S. enforcement agencies on officers and directors that approve, or engage in, proscribed activities. Accordingly, in an effort to avoid running afoul of U.S. sanctions, boards should be vigilant in understanding how these evolving rules apply to the business activities of their companies and management teams.

Special Bonus: Tax reform.

Tax reform has been a top priority for the Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress. After a slow start to 2017 in terms of legislative wins, the House and Senate are poised to send the first comprehensive tax reform bill to the President’s desk in more than thirty years. While the differences between the House and Senate bills still need to be resolved, the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is expected to pass by the end of the year and will present both benefits and challenges for companies in implementation and adaptation as unintended consequences are inevitably uncovered in the months and years to come.

The complete publication is available here.

La gouvernance relative aux sociétés en 2017 | Un « Survey » des entreprises du SV 150 et de la S&P 100


Au début de la nouvelle année 2018, il est intéressant de connaître les tendances les plus marquantes dans les entreprises cotées en bourse.

L’enquête menée par David A. Bell*, associé de la firme Fenwick & West, est assez instructive à cet égard. Dans l’ensemble, l’année 2017 n’a pas connu de changements très significatifs dans les règles de gouvernance.

Cependant, l’étude est intéressante au regard des différences entre les entreprises de la Silicone Vallée 150 Index (SV 150) et les entreprises de la Standard & Poor’s 100 Index (S&P 100). Voici un sommaire des résultats :

 

Structure de classe d’actions multi votantes

 

Il y a peu de différences entre les deux groupes d’entreprises, soit environ 10 % pour le SV 150 et 9 % pour la S&P 100.

 

Règles de composition des conseils d’administration (Classified Boards)

 

Cette année, on a constaté peu de changements dans les règles de composition des conseils d’administration dans les deux groupes d’entreprises : 6,7 % pour le groupe SV 150 et 4 % pour le groupe S&P 100.

 

Vote majoritaire

 

C’est le domaine où il y a eu les changements les plus significatifs. Ainsi, presque toutes les entreprises de la S&P 100 ont adopté le vote majoritaire pour l’élection des administrateurs tandis que pour les entreprises du SV 150, l’adoption de la règle du vote majoritaire est passée de 0 à 60 % en 2 ans.

 

Directives concernant l’acquisition d’actions par les administrateurs

 

Les entreprises des deux groupes ont émis des directives concernant (1) le minimum de possession d’actions et (2) la période requise de rétention des actions. Mais, dans l’ensemble, on assiste à une augmentation continue des acquisitions d’actions par les administrateurs et les dirigeants dans les deux groupes.

 

 Politiques de distribution d’actions avec droit de vote comme mode de rémunération

 

Il y a une nette tendance au maintien des politiques de distribution d’actions avec droit de vote comme mode de rémunération des administrateurs et des dirigeants dans le groupe du SV 150. Cette rémunération en actions est beaucoup plus importante dans ce groupe que dans le groupe de la S&P 100.

 

La diversité au conseil

 

La présence de femmes sur les conseils d’administration est toujours en augmentation : 25,4 % des administrateurs dans le SV 150 et 23,9 % dans la S&P 100.

 

Taille des CA, fréquence des réunions du conseil et structures de leadership

 

Il existe toujours une différence importante entre les deux groupes eu égard à la dualité des rôles de présidents du conseil et PDG de l’entreprise. La dualité est présente dans 33 % des entreprises du SV 150 et dans 72 % des entreprises de la S&P 100. La fréquence des réunions du CA a diminué dans les deux groupes.

Les administrateurs provenant de la direction sont plus nombreux dans les entreprises du SV 150, bien qu’en constante diminution depuis plusieurs années.

La taille des CA est en diminution dans les entreprises du SV 150 et elle nettement plus petite que dans les entreprises de la S&P 100.

 

Propositions d’actionnaires

 

On constate une diminution de l’activisme des actionnaires dans les deux groupes d’entreprises. En fait, on note une seule contestation d’élection des administrateurs en 2017.

 

Officiers de la hautes direction

 

On note une diminution du nombre de hauts dirigeants dans les deux groupes d’entreprises bien que le déclin soit beaucoup plus marqué dans les entreprises du SV 100. En outre, on assiste à une croissance soutenue des postes de Secrétaire corporatif  « exécutif » et de Chef exécutif des technologies.

 

Pour plus de détails concernant ces résultats, veuillez consulter l’article ci-dessous, publié sur le site de la Harvard Law School  Forum on Corporate Governance.

Bonne lecture et bonne année 2018.

 

 

Corporate Governance Survey—2017 Proxy Season

 

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « gouvernance des sociétés cotées »

L’Actualité IFA de la gouvernance des sociétés

 

 

Since 2003, Fenwick has collected a unique body of information on the corporate governance practices of publicly traded companies that is useful for Silicon Valley companies and publicly‑traded technology and life science companies across the U.S. as well as public companies and their advisors generally. Fenwick’s annual survey covers a variety of corporate governance practices and data for the companies included in the Standard & Poor’s 100 Index (S&P 100) and the technology and life science companies included in the Silicon Valley [1]

 

Significant Findings

 

Governance practices and trends (or perceived trends) among the largest companies are generally presented as normative for all public companies. However, it is also somewhat axiomatic that corporate governance practices should be tailored to suit the circumstances of the individual company involved. Among the significant differences between the corporate governance practices of the SV 150 technology and life science companies and the uniformly large public companies of the S&P 100 are:

Dual‑Class Voting Stock Structure.

Adoption of dual-class voting stock structures has emerged as a recent clear trend among Silicon Valley technology companies—among the mid-to-larger SV 150 companies—though it is still a small percentage of companies. Historically, dual-class voting stock structures have been significantly more common among S&P 100 companies than among SV 150 companies, though the frequency in the SV 150 (11.3% in 2016 to 10.9% in 2017) has surpassed the S&P 100 (9.0% in both 2016 and 2017) in recent years.

Classified Boards

Classified boards are now significantly more common among SV 150 companies than among S&P 100 companies. Compared to the prior year, classified boards remained fairly consistent, holding steady at 6.7% for the top 15 companies in the SV 150 while the S&P 100 has been at 4.0% since 2016.

Majority Voting

The rate of implementation of some form of majority voting has risen substantially over the period of this survey. The increase has been particularly dramatic among S&P 100 companies, rising from 10% to 97% between the 2004 and 2017 proxy seasons. Among SV 150 companies, the rate has risen from zero in the 2005 proxy season to 59.9% in the 2017 proxy season.

Stock Ownership Guidelines

The prevalence of stock ownership guidelines has generally increased over time in both groups but the SV 150 only recently surpassed the level of the S&P 100. This year’s edition of the survey includes additional detail regarding the minimum holding amount and period requirements for executives and directors.

Executives and Directors ‑ Equity, Voting Power Ownership

There is a clear multi-year trend that the distribution of simple equity ownership and voting power ownership skews higher among technology and life sciences companies in the SV 150 than among S&P 100 companies.

Board Diversity

2017 continued the long-term trend in the SV 150 of increasing numbers of women directors and declining numbers of boards without women members. The rate of increase in women directors for SV 150 overall continues to be higher than among S&P 100 companies. When measured as a percentage of the total number of directors, the top 15 of the SV 150 now slightly exceed their S&P 100 peers (the top 15 averaged 25.4% women directors in the 2017 proxy season, compared to 23.9% in the S&P 100). Companies with at least one woman director went from 74% to 78.2% over the past year for the SV 150. Over a two-year period the percentage of companies with at least one woman director grew by 10 percentage points.

Board Size, Meeting Frequency, Leadership

Combined chair/CEOs existed at about one third of companies in the SV 150, while combined chair/CEOs exist at about 72% of S&P 100. SV 150 companies held board meetings more often in fiscal 2016, while S&P 100 companies decreased meeting frequency in 2016 (companies report meetings for the prior year). SV 150 companies, though, continued to skew noticeably toward fewer meetings compared to the S&P 100. Insider directors are more common among members of the boards of SV 150 companies than among board members at S&P 100 companies, though continuing a long-term downward trend. The number of directors also tends to be substantially lower among SV 150 companies than among S&P 100 companies.

Stockholder Proposals

Stockholder activism—measured in the form of proposals included in the proxy statements of companies—is substantially lower among the SV 150 than among S&P 100 companies. There is a current general downward trend of stockholder activism in both groups, although the SV 150 has had an upward trend in number of proposals in recent years. This year each group had just one contested director election. For more detail, please see our post, Silicon Valley and S&P 100: A Comparison of 2017 Proxy Season Results.

Executive Officers

The number of executive officers tends to be substantially lower among SV 150 companies than among the S&P 100, and there continues to be a general decline in the average number of executive officers per company in both groups. By contrast, the percentage of companies including General Counsel, Chief Legal Officer or Chief Technology Officer or engineering executive as “executive officers” have been on a long-term upswing.

Complete Coverage

In complete publication, available here, we present statistical information for a subset of the data we have collected over the years, updating for the 2017 proxy season. These include:

– makeup of board leadership

– number of insider directors

– gender diversity on boards of directors

– size and number of meetings for boards and their primary committees

– frequency and number of other standing committees

– majority voting

– board classification

– use of a dual‑class voting structure

– frequency, coverage and details of executive officer and director stock ownership guidelines

– frequency and number of shareholder proposals

– number and makeup of executive officers

In each case, comparative data is presented for the S&P 100 companies and for the high technology and life science companies included in the SV 150, as well as trend information over the history of the survey. In a number of instances we also present data showing comparison of the top 15, top 50, middle 50 and bottom 50 companies of the SV 150 (in terms of revenue), [2] illustrating the impact of company size or scale on the relevant governance practices.

The complete publication is available here.

———————————————————————————————–

Endnotes

1The S&P 100 is a cross‑section of companies across industries, but is not a cross‑section of companies across all size ranges (it represents the largest companies in the United States). While the SV 150 is made up of the largest public companies in Silicon Valley by one measure—revenue, it is actually a fairly broad cross‑section of companies by size, but is limited to the technology and life science companies based in Silicon Valley. Compared to the S&P 100, SV 150 companies are generally much smaller and younger, have lower revenue. The 2017 constituent companies of the SV 150 range from Apple and Alphabet with revenue of approximately $218B and $90B, respectively, to Aemetis and DSP Group with revenue of approximately $143M and $138M, respectively, in each case for the four quarters ended on or about December 31, 2016. Apple went public in 1980, Alphabet (as Google) in 2004, Aemetis in 2007 and DSP Group in 1994. Apple and Alphabet’s peers clearly include companies in the S&P 100, of which they are also constituent members (eight companies were constituents of both indices for the survey in the 2017 proxy season), where market capitalization averages approximately $130B. Aemetis and DSP Group’s peers are smaller technology and life sciences companies that went public relatively recently and have market capitalizations well under $1B. In terms of number of employees, the SV 150 averages 9,500 employees (with a median of 1,800 employees), ranging from Hewlett Packard Enterprise with 195,000 employees spread around the world in dozens of countries, to companies such as Aemetis with 144 employees in the United States and India, as of the end of their respective fiscal years 2016. The S&P 100 averages 130,000 employees and includes Wal‑Mart with 2.3 million employees in more than two dozen countries at its most recent fiscal year-end.(go back)

2The top 15, top 50, middle 50 and bottom 50 companies of the SV 150 include companies with revenue in the following respective ranges: $8.4B or more, $1.6B or more, $380M but less than $1.6B, and $138M but less than $375M. The respective average market capitalizations of these groups are $178.8B, $66B, $3.3B and $1.2B.(go back

________________________________________________

*David A. Bell is partner in the corporate and securities group at Fenwick & West LLP. This post is based on portions of a Fenwick publication titled Corporate Governance Practices and Trends: A Comparison of Large Public Companies and Silicon Valley Companies (2017 Proxy Season); the complete survey is available here.

Compte rendu hebdomadaire de la Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance | 28 décembre 2017


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance corporative au 28 décembre 2017.

Cette semaine, j’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Bonne lecture !

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « harvard law school forum on corporate governance »

 

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « harvard law school forum on corporate governance »

 


 

  1. Top 5 Things Shareholder Activists Need to Know
  2. Analysis of Final Tax Reform Legislation
  3. Analysis of ISS’ Proxy Voting Guidelines
  4. The Information Content of Dividends: Safer Profits, Not Higher Profits
  5. Advising Shareholders in Takeovers
  6. SEC Cyber Unit and Allegedly Fraudulent ICO
  7. Board Composition: A Slow Evolution
  8. Do Activists Turn Bad Bidders into Good Acquirers?
  9. Appraisal Litigation Update
  10. The Legal Validity of Oral Agreements with Activist Investors

Compte rendu hebdomadaire de la Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance | 21 décembre 2017


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance corporative au 21 décembre 2017.

Cette semaine, j’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Bonne lecture !

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « harvard law school forum on corporate governance »

 

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « harvard law school forum on corporate governance »


 

  1. Revised FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy
  2. Analysis of 2018 Revenue Recognition Rules
  3. Analysis of Two-Step Merger With Uninformed Stockholder Consent
  4. Matters to Consider for the 2018 Annual Meeting
  5. 2017 Board Diversity Survey
  6. Proposed Revisions to the UK’s Corporate Governance Regime
  7. Meaningful Limits on Director Pay
  8. Passive Fund Providers and Investment Stewardship
  9. The Limits of Shareholder Ratification for Discretionary Director Compensation
  10. Finding the Right Balance in Appraisal Litigation: Deal Price, Deal Process, and Synergies

 

Évolution dans la composition des conseils d’administration aux É.U.


Les changements apportés à la gouvernance des entreprises passent souvent par un renouvellement du membership du conseil d’administration.

Le document publié par Spencer Stuart intitulé 2017 Spencer Stuart Board Index montre que les pressions sont de plus en plus grandes, notamment de la part des investisseurs institutionnels, pour moduler la composition du CA.

Ainsi, tel que le rapporte Julie Daum, Laurel McCarthy et Ann Yerger, dans une publication de Spencer Stuart, les changements sont assez importants, bien que jugés encore trop lents.

Vous trouverez, ci-dessous un résumé de cette publication ainsi que dix (10) suggestions à considérer afin de poursuivre dans la voie du renouvellement de la composition des conseils d’administration.

En cette période des fêtes de Noël et de la nouvelle année, je vous souhaite une lecture agréable et profitable.

Jacques Grisé, Ph. D., F.Adm.A.

Éditeur de ce blogue en gouvernance

 

Board Composition: A Slow Evolution

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « composition du conseil d'administration spencer stuart »

Conseils d’administration : mesdames, il y a des places à prendre !

 

Interest in the composition of U.S. boards has never been greater. Pressure for change is coming from many fronts, particularly from institutional and activist investors. We have been tracking board composition issues for more than 30 years, and as the data from our 2017 Spencer Stuart Board Index show, U.S. boards are evolving, slowly.

– The number of new independent directors elected to S&P 500 boards during the 2017 proxy year rose to 397, the most since 2004 and an increase of 15% from 2016.

– For the first time in the history of our survey, just over half (50.1%) of incoming independent directors on S&P 500 boards are women or minorities.

– A record-breaking 45% of the new S&P 500 independent directors are serving on their first public company board.

– Boards are seeking talent beyond C-suite chairs, CEOs, presidents or COOs. Slightly more than a third of new independent directors are active or retired C-suite executives, down from 47% 10 years ago.

– Fewer active CEOs serve on boards. Today only 37% of S&P 500 CEOs serve on one or more outside public company boards, down from 52% 10 years ago.

Calls for greater boardroom diversity—encompassing considerations such as gender, race, age, skills, qualifications and backgrounds—are on the rise. And boards are responding.

Director skills and experiences are changing. Nearly 20% of new independent S&P 500 directors have experience in the technology or telecommunications industries. Directors with backgrounds in banking, finance, investment or accounting are in high demand, representing 29% of new directors in 2017, up from 19% in 2007. Of this group, directors with investing and investment management experience are of particular interest. Thirteen percent (13%) of new directors come from the investment field, up from 5% a decade ago; less than 20% of these directors were appointed under publicized settlements with activist investors.

S&P 500 boards are opening their doors to directors without prior public board experience. These first-time independent directors are more likely than other new directors to be actively employed (64% versus 42%). They are less likely to be C-suite executives and more likely to have other executive experiences, such as division or subsidiary leadership. They are younger, with an average age of 55.2, compared to 57.3 for other incoming independent directors. They are also more likely to be diverse; more than half (55%) of this year’s incoming first-time directors are women or minorities, a significant jump from 37% a year ago.

Female representation among all new independent S&P 500 directors rose to 36% in 2017—the highest percentage we’ve ever tracked—while 20% of incoming independent directors are minorities, defined as African-American, Hispanic/Latino or Asian. (Six percent of the new directors are women and minorities.) Women are increasingly assuming leadership roles on S&P 500 boards, chairing 20% of audit committees, 17% of compensation committees and 22% of nominating committees, up from 15%, 11% and 20%, respectively, in 2016.

Despite these steps forward, the overall pace of change in boardroom diversity remains slow. With 48% of S&P 500 boards adding no directors, board turnover continues to be low and hinders change to the overall composition of U.S. boardrooms.

– Today 22% of all S&P 500 directors are women, up incrementally from 21% in 2016 and 17% in 2012.

– Minority representation at the top 200 S&P 500 companies is low. Seventeen percent (17%) of directors of the top 200 companies are male or female minorities, and representation of African-Americans and Hispanics/Latinos in the top 200 boardrooms has not significantly changed over the past five to 10 years.

Boardroom refreshment faces other headwinds. About three-quarters (73%) of S&P 500 boards report having a mandatory retirement age for directors, unchanged over the past five years, and boards continue to raise retirement ages. Today 42% of S&P 500 companies with retirement policies set their retirement age at 75 or older, compared with 22% in 2012 and just 11% in 2007. Meanwhile, the percentage of S&P 500 companies disclosing some form of individual director assessments is low (37%) and largely unchanged. The data suggest that rather than using evaluations to evaluate director fit in the boardroom, boards are relying on mandatory retirement ages as a primary mechanism for board refreshment.

10 ways boards can continue to evolve

Purposeful leadership by directors is required to continue the evolution in the boardroom. In our experience working with boards, the most effective strategies for building a board composed of the diverse portfolio of skills, qualifications, perspectives and backgrounds matched to the company’s current and future strategic objectives and risks include these 10 elements:

  1. Continuously review the board’s skill sets and performance relative to the company’s strategy and direction. The annual board self-evaluation is a natural platform for the board to review its composition and future needs so that it is in the best position to oversee management as new challenges and market opportunities emerge.

  2. Expand the use of peer and self-evaluations, which can be invaluable tools for providing feedback to and enhancing the performance of new and tenured directors, and for identifying gaps in boardroom skills and experiences.

  3. Take a hard look at formal policies—such as mandatory retirement policies—intended to promote turnover and evaluate whether the policies may be impeding refreshment.

  4. Understand that boardroom diversity, defined broadly but with an emphasis on gender and racial diversity, is of growing interest not just to investors, but also to other key company stakeholders, including employees, suppliers and customers. A tangible commitment to boardroom diversity will be increasingly important, and a “one and done” mentality will be challenged more often in the future, particularly as boards plan for anticipated board vacancies. One approach is to strive to interview several qualified candidates for every open board seat.

  5. Carefully define the expertise that is important for the board—for example, industry or functional knowledge, digital expertise or international experience. Be clear about the perspectives or expertise that the board is looking to gain.

  6. Foster an open mind about what a director candidate should look like and the different ways a director can contribute. Consider senior business unit or functional leaders, including younger executives who may be experts in specific areas such as e-commerce, digital marketing and cybersecurity.

  7. Avoid creating an overly long list of director qualifications, which can limit the talent pool. Be realistic about desired director qualifications; sitting CEOs today are serving on fewer (if any) outside boards. The selection process should cast a wide net and look for the best candidate—not just the one known to board members.

  8. Consider candidates without prior board experience. When assessing first-time candidates, look at their underlying capabilities and mindset—including what we call “board intrinsics,” attributes such as intellectual approach, independent-mindedness, integrity, interpersonal skills and inclination to engage—to understand how likely they are to be able to contribute as well-rounded directors. Spencer Stuart’s Board Intrinsics™ assessment approach focuses on these critical underlying talents and competencies. Candidates who score well in all five areas are most likely to be capable of contributing as “all-round” directors, in addition to the specific knowledge, skill or set of experiences that makes them of interest to boards.

  9. Establish a robust new director orientation program. All new directors—male and female, first-time and experienced—benefit from an orientation program that helps them quickly get up to speed on the business and the company’s approach to governance.

  10. Commit to transparency about board governance practices. With investor attention to board performance on the rise, boards are enhancing their disclosure about key areas of investor interest, including board composition and leadership, director tenure and turnover, board evaluation and performance, and shareholder engagement.

Comment se comporter lors de campagnes menées par des actionnaires activistes | Cinq conseils utiles


Vous trouverez, ci-dessous, une publication des auteurs Steve Wolosky*, Andrew Freedman, et Ron Berenblat, associés de la firme Olshan Frome Wolosky, qui présente, de façon intelligible, ce que les actionnaires activistes doivent prévoir lorsqu’ils décident de faire inscrire de nouveaux administrateurs sur la liste des candidats aux élections annuelles.

Au cours des dernières années, le phénomène de l’activisme a connu une progression assez substantielle. La gouvernance des entreprises passe souvent par une solide compréhension de ce que les actionnaires activistes cherchent à accomplir.

Les entreprises qui ont des lacunes dans la gouvernance (au conseil) et dans l’efficacité des hauts dirigeants (notamment du CEO) sont beaucoup plus susceptibles d’être la cible des campagnes activistes. Les conseils offerts par la firme Olshan Frome Wolosky sont très utiles, autant pour les actionnaires activistes, que pour les dirigeants des entreprises visés. Leurs recommandations à l’intention des activistes portent sur les cinq points ci-dessous.

 

– Il est temps de présenter des candidatures qui démontrent un souci marqué pour la diversité dans la composition du conseil d’administration. C’est l’un des plus importants critères des firmes de conseils en votation (ISS et Glass Lewis) et des investisseurs institutionnels.

– Lorsque les actionnaires activistes ciblent le CEO d’une organisation, ceux-ci sont invités à la prudence dans la présentation des arguments à l’actionnariat, car il est toujours délicat et difficile de s’attaquer à la tête dirigeante de l’entreprise.

– Les experts de la gouvernance et les groupes d’activistes ont essentiellement mis l’accent sur les opérations américaines. Cependant, au cours des dernières années, on assiste à un activisme de plus en plus international. Les auteurs incitent donc les actionnaires activistes à s’intéresser aux entreprises mondiales, en soulignant que le terrain est souvent plus propice à leurs activités dans certains pays, tels que la Corée du Sud, le Canada, etc. Certains mécanismes de défense légaux qui existent aux États-Unis sont absents des réglementations de plusieurs pays.

– Les auteurs mettent en garde les actionnaires activistes contre des propositions de candidatures considérées comme « illégitimes ». Il arrive que, dans la préparation de dossiers de candidatures de haut calibre, les activistes aient tendance à oublier la règle du maximum de cinq conseils pour un administrateur indépendant et de deux pour un CEO siégeant à d’autres conseils.

– Enfin, les auteurs soulignent le fait que les entreprises utilisent toutes sortes de moyens de défense pour éliminer les candidatures provenant des activistes. Pour eux, qui prêchent pour leurs paroisses, il est crucial de bien connaître les règlements intérieurs de l’entreprise ciblée ainsi que les mécanismes de nomination.

 

Bien entendu, la firme Olshan Frome Wolosky propose leurs services juridiques afin de maximiser les efforts des activistes !

J’espère que ce bref tour d’horizon du monde de l’actionnariat activiste vous sera utile dans la bonne gouvernance des entreprises dans lesquelles vous êtes impliqués.

Je vous souhaite donc une bonne lecture et j’attends vos commentaires.

Top 5 Things Shareholder Activists Need to Know

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « actionnaires activistes »

 

Nomination deadlines for the 2018 proxy season are fast approaching. Based on feedback from our shareholder activist clients and colleagues in the activism community, we are preparing for a very busy nomination season, which will begin to pick up steam in the next few weeks and continue into the new year. Drawing from our experience as the leading law firm to shareholder activists—including our involvement in delivering over 55 nomination letters during the past 12 months alone—and our views on current hot-button topics such as board diversity, global activism and the targeting of CEOs, Olshan’s Activist & Equity Investment Group presents you with its list of top 5 things activists should consider before nominating directors for the upcoming proxy season.

 

1. It’s Time to Diversify

 

We are beginning to advise our clients to include diversity as a key criterion in selecting their slates of nominees and, in the case of short-slate contests, identifying the incumbent directors they will seek to replace. Board diversity is currently one of the hottest corporate governance topics and will be highly relevant during the upcoming proxy season. In addition to highlighting the inequality engendered by the lack of diversity of current public company boards, there is abundant research showing a correlation between diverse boards and improved financial performance, corporate governance and accountability to shareholders.

As a result, numerous institutional investors have prioritized their efforts to foster greater diversity, particularly gender diversity, in the boardroom. Earlier this year, BlackRock stated that it will reach out to portfolio companies “to better understand their progress on improving gender balance in the boardroom.” Vanguard recently sent an open letter to public companies stating that over the coming years it will focus on gender diversity in the boardroom and that it “expect[s] boards to focus on it as well, and their demonstration of meaningful progress over time will inform our engagement and voting going forward.” State Street voted against the election of directors at 400 portfolio companies that it determined had failed to take adequate measures to address the absence of women in the boardroom. There is a high probability that one or more of these or other like-minded institutional investors will account for a meaningful percentage of the shareholder base in any domestic election contest initiated by an activist.

An activist’s likelihood of success in an election contest is inextricably tied to the qualifications and expertise of the activist’s director slate. Based on the unebbing wave of board diversity awareness and volume of research extolling the strengths of diverse boards, highly-qualified dissident nominees with diverse backgrounds not only improve the quality of the overall dissident slate—and are therefore more likely to be viewed favorably by shareholders—but are also more likely to be better positioned to advance the activist’s platform once elected to the board. For the same reasons, diversity should also be taken into consideration when evaluating which incumbent directors an activist may seek to replace in a short-slate election contest.

 

2. Beware of CEO “Bloodlust”

 

Departing from the early days of shareholder activism, there was a noticeable spike during the past year in the number of activist campaigns that sought the removal of members of their targets’ upper management, particularly CEOs. Elliott Management’s election contest against Arconic, which sought to hold CEO Klaus Kleinfeld directly accountable to shareholders, led to Kleinfeld’s departure during the late stages of the campaign. Pressure from Mantle Ridge resulted in the appointment of Hunter Harrison as the new CEO of CSX. After Marcato Capital ran a slate of directors at Buffalo Wild Wings and called upon the company to replace its CEO Sally Smith, Smith announced on the day of the annual meeting her intention to resign as CEO. Just six months later, Buffalo Wild Wings agreed to be acquired by Arby’s Restaurant Group for a hefty premium.

In a recently settled activist situation, Jeereddi Partners and Purple Mountain Capital initially nominated two director candidates for election at Tuesday Morning’s annual meeting, one of which was recruited specifically for the purpose of becoming the next CEO. Interestingly, in a communication to Tuesday Morning’s employees apprising them of the activist incursion, the existing CEO stated that the investor group’s tactic of seeking to replace him reflected a “new norm” of activism:

These activists also seek to have one of their candidates join the management team as CEO. This tactic used by activist investors is common in today’s market environment.

A Wall Street Journal article by David Benoit succinctly identified this trend in its headline—“Activist Investors Have a New Bloodlust: CEOs.”

Despite the growing number of activist campaigns targeting CEOs, activists should think long and hard before going for the jugular. While every situation is different, seeking to replace a director who is also the CEO (even in a short-slate contest) or calling for the ouster of a CEO as part of the activist’s platform in an election contest is still an aggressive strategy. Attempting to remove the principal executive officer of a company may not sit well with other institutional investors or the proxy advisory firms, depending on the facts and circumstances.

This topic was recently addressed by proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services (“ISS”) after one of the defense law firms publicly expressed its view that ISS should alter its analytical framework for reviewing proxy contests to take into account whether the dissident is seeking to replace a CEO/director. In commentary issued by ISS dismissing the need to change its analytical framework in this manner, ISS stated:

… the notion that ISS does not already view the targeting of a CEO as an unusual and significant factor—and thus worthy of careful consideration in a short-slate fight—would be a misrepresentation of our framework.

The removal of a CEO from a board represents a vote of no-confidence that carries further-reaching consequences than the removal of most other directors. However, in instances of demonstrably poor execution, operational issues, or undue management influence over the board, such targeting may be appropriate—provided that the consequent risks have been properly assessed.

ISS’ perspective on this topic is highly instructive and, in our view, should be applied broadly by an activist when evaluating whether to target a CEO. Activists should understand that the standard will be higher for obtaining shareholder support and ISS’ recommendation to remove the CEO from the board in an election contest. As ISS points out above, the facts and circumstances of a particular situation could make the targeting of a CEO appropriate, and hence a winning strategy for an activist. Nevertheless, activists should proceed with caution before going down this path.

 

3. Let’s Go Global

 

As the activism space gets more and more crowded in the U.S. as a result of an increasing number of activists and bloated war chests activist managers are tasked to deploy, opportunities abound in Europe, Asia and Australia. The corporate governance regimes of certain of these jurisdictions are actually more favorable to shareholders than in the U.S. and the breadth of legal and structural defenses that are commonly utilized by targets in the U.S. are not present in many of these countries. We would even characterize certain countries as “wide open” for shareholder activism. In South Korea, President Moon Jae-in and other government officials are actually inviting foreign shareholders to invest in South Korean companies and play activist roles in overseeing their investments as the administration attempts to promote a culture of accountability to foreign and minority shareholders that South Korea historically lacked.

Offshore campaigns recently commenced by U.S. activist titans are capturing headlines. Third Point is putting pressure on Swiss conglomerate Nestlé to improve productivity, divest non-priority assets and return capital to shareholders. Corvex Management successfully blocked Swiss chemical giant Clariant’s proposed merger with Huntsman. Elliott Management has multiple active situations in Europe, Asia and Australia.

These high-profile campaigns are not isolated incidents. Shareholder activists of all sizes and vintages are taking companies to task all over the globe. In fact, over 290 non-U.S. companies were publicly subjected to activist demands during 2017 (through October 31) according to Activist Insight Online. The action is not only in the U.S.

Activists who are willing to cast a wider net in evaluating potential situations may find prime opportunities abroad. Olshan has experience advising activists in Canada, Europe and Asia and has relationships with law firms, solicitors and consultants all over the globe who can advise on local securities laws, proxy mechanics and cultural considerations that are unique to each jurisdiction.

 

4. Don’t Go Overboard

 

Activists should make sure each of their director nominees complies with the “overboarding” guidelines of the two leading proxy advisory firms—ISS and Glass Lewis. Under the current ISS proxy voting guidelines, ISS will generally recommend a vote against or withhold from an individual director nominee who (i) serves on more than five public company boards, or (ii) is CEO of a public company who serves on the boards of more than two public companies (besides his or her own); provided that the negative vote recommendation will only apply to the CEO’s outside boards. ISS may give a positive recommendation for an overboarded nominee after he or she undertakes to gain compliance with the guideline by resigning from an existing directorship if elected at the meeting in question.

Under the Glass Lewis guidelines, Glass Lewis will generally recommend a vote against an individual director nominee who (i) serves on more than five public company boards, or (ii) is an executive officer of a public company while serving on a total of more than two public company boards. Glass Lewis may refrain from making a negative vote recommendation on overboarded nominees if provided with “sufficient rationale” for their board service.

Given the importance of obtaining ISS and Glass Lewis support in most election contests, it is critical that activists take measures to ensure that their nominees are not overboarded. This can be done by requiring prospective nominees to provide updated bios or resumes, including all current directorships and executive officer positions. This is typically covered by Olshan’s form of nominee questionnaire we recommend all our activist clients obtain from their prospective nominees prior to nominating. Nominees should also be made aware of the overboarding requirements and reminded to consult with the activist before accepting additional directorships or executive officer positions prior to the meeting date.

 

5. Sweat the Mechanics

 

Failure to pay close attention to the mechanics involved in the nomination process could allow the target company to gain the upper hand or even derail the activist’s campaign in its entirety. Activists who are in the process of evaluating a potential campaign should contact us early in the process so we can begin to identify and work through all the mechanics, which could be complex and involve more than just putting shares in record name in order to validly nominate.

Understanding the company’s advance notice procedures for nominating directors typically contained in the bylaws is critical from both a timing and strategic standpoint. Activists should not necessarily rely on any nomination deadline set forth in the prior year’s proxy statement as these deadlines are often erroneously calculated by the company under the advance notice procedures contained in the bylaws or confused with the Rule 14a-8 deadline due to sloppy drafting. Allowing us sufficient time to review the nomination procedures in the bylaws will ensure that everyone is working with the correct nomination deadline and monitoring the company’s public filings and press releases for the meeting date. This is critical as under most nomination procedures, companies have the ability to accelerate the nomination deadline by announcing a meeting date that is a certain number of days (typically more than 30 or 60 days) before the anniversary of the previous year’s meeting.

Companies are artfully expanding their nomination procedures in order to flush out activists earlier in the process and to make it more expensive for them to nominate. For example, there is a good chance the nomination procedures will contain a requirement that the dissident nominees complete and sign the target company’s director questionnaires for inclusion in the activist’s nomination package. If this is the case, we will need to reach out to company counsel in order to obtain the form of questionnaire prior to the nomination deadline. Getting us involved early can allow us to ensure that the company does not use the nominee questionnaire requirement as a defensive tactic. We are aware of companies whose nomination procedures give them up to 10 days to provide the form of questionnaire after one has been requested by a shareholder. For such companies, we would need to request the form of questionnaire more than 10 days prior to the nomination deadline in order to be in a position to receive the form of questionnaire and submit a complete nomination package prior to the deadline. Otherwise, the company would be permitted to wait until after the nomination deadline before providing a form of questionnaire, thereby preventing the activist from being in technical compliance with the advance nomination procedures.

_____________________________________________________________

*Steve Wolosky, Andrew Freedman, and Ron Berenblat are partners at Olshan Frome Wolosky LLP. This post is based on an Olshan publication by Mr. Wolosky, Mr. Freedman, and Mr. Berenblat. Related research from the Program on Corporate Governance includes Dancing With Activists by Lucian Bebchuk, Alon Brav, Wei Jang, and Thomas Keusch (discussed on the Forum here).

Rôle du CA dans l’établissement d’une forte culture organisationnelle | Un guide pratique


Vous trouverez, ci-dessous, un document partagé par Joanne Desjardins*, qui porte sur le rôle du CA dans l’établissement d’une solide culture organisationnelle.

C’est certainement l’un des guides les plus utiles sur le sujet. Il s’agit d’une référence essentielle en matière de gouvernance.

Je vous invite à lire le sommaire exécutif. Vos commentaires sont appréciés.

 

Managing Culture | A good practical guide – December 2017

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « tone at the top »

Executive summary

 

In Australia, the regulators Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) and Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) have both signalled that there are significant risks around poor corporate culture. ASIC recognises that culture is at the heart of how an organisation and its staff think and behave, while APRA directs boards to define the institution’s risk appetite and establish a risk management strategy, and to ensure management takes the necessary steps to monitor and manage material risks. APRA takes a broad approach to ‘risk culture’ – includingrisk emerging from a poor culture.

Regulators across the globe are grappling with the issue of risk culture and how best to monitor it. While regulators generally do not dictate a cultural framework, they have identified common areas that may influence an organisation’s risk culture: leadership, good governance, translating values and principles into practices, measurement and accountability, effective communication and challenge, recruitment and incentives. Ultimately, the greatest risk lies in organisations that are believed to be hypocritical when it comes to the espoused versus actual culture.

The board is ultimately responsible for the definition and oversight of culture. In the US, Mary Jo White, Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), recognised that a weak risk culture is the root cause of many large governancefailures, and that the board must set the ‘tone at the top’.

Culture also has an important role to play in risk management and risk appetite, and can pose significant risks that may affect an organisation’s long-term viability.

However, culture is much more about people than it is about rules. This guide argues that an ethical framework – which is different from a code of ethics or a code of conduct – should sit at the heart of the governance framework of an organisation. An ethical framework includes a clearly espoused purpose, supported by values and principles.

There is no doubt that increasing attention is being given to the ethical foundations of an organisation as a driving force of culture, and one method of achieving consistency of organisational conduct is to build an ethical framework in which employees can function effectively by achieving clarity about what the organisation deems to be a ‘good’ or a ‘right’ decision.

Culture can be measured by looking at the extent to which the ethical framework of the organisation is perceived to be or is actually embedded within day-to-day practices. Yet measurement and evaluation of culture is in its early stages, and boards and senior management need to understand whether the culture they have is the culture they want.

In organisations with strong ethical cultures, the systems and processes of the organisation will align with the ethical framework. And people will use the ethical framework in the making of day-to-day decisions – both large and small.

Setting and embedding a clear ethical framework is not just the role of the board and senior management – all areas can play a role. This publication provides high-level guidance to these different roles:

The board is responsible for setting the tone at the top. The board should set the ethical foundations of the organisation through the ethical framework. Consistently, the board needs to be assured that the ethical framework is embedded within the organisation’s systems, processes and culture.

Management is responsible for implementing and monitoring the desired culture as defined and set by the board. They are also responsible for demonstrating leadership of the culture.

Human resources (HR) is fundamental in shaping, reinforcing and changing corporate culture within an organisation. HR drives organisational change programs that ensure cultural alignment with the ethical framework of the organisation. HR provides alignment to the ethical framework through recruitment, orientation, training, performance management, remuneration and other incentives.

Internal audit assesses how culture is being managed and monitored, and can provide an independent view of the current corporate culture.

External audit provides an independent review of an entity’s financial affairs according to legislative requirements, and provides the audit committee with valuable, objective insight into aspects of the entity’s governance and internal controls including its risk management.

 

 


*Joanne Desjardins est administratrice de sociétés et consultante en gouvernance. Elle possède plus de 18 années d’expérience comme avocate et comme consultante en gouvernance, en stratégie et en gestion des ressources humaines. Elle est constamment à l’affût des derniers développements en gouvernance et publie des articles sur le sujet.

Compte rendu hebdomadaire de la Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance | 14 décembre 2017


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance corporative au 14 décembre 2017.

Cette semaine, j’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Bonne lecture !

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « harvard law school forum on corporate governance »

 

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « harvard law school forum on corporate governance »


 

 

  1. Excluding Shareholder Proposals Based on New SLB 141
  2. Audit Committee Disclosure Trends in Proxy Statements
  3. Leverage, CEO Risk-Taking Incentives, and Bank Failure During the 2007-2010 Financial Crisis
  4. Executives in Politics
  5. Governing Through Disruption: A Boardroom Guide to 2018
  6. Critical Update Needed: Cybersecurity Expertise in the Boardroom
  7. Statement on Cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings
  8. Reexamining Staggered Boards and Shareholder Value
  9. Shaped by Their Daughters: Executives, Female Socialization, and Corporate Social Responsibility
  10. Court of Chancery Dismisses Challenge to Stock Reclassification

Liste des billets les plus récents publiés sur mon blogue en gouvernance | Trimestre se terminant le 30 novembre 2017


Voici une liste des billets en gouvernance les plus lus, publiés sur mon blogue au cours du trimestre se terminant le 30 novembre 2017.

Cette liste constitue, en quelque sorte, un sondage de l’intérêt manifesté par des dizaines de milliers de personnes sur différents thèmes de la gouvernance des sociétés. On y retrouve des points de vue bien étayés sur des sujets d’actualité relatifs aux conseils d’administration.

Que retrouve-t-on dans ce blogue et quels en sont les objectifs ?

Ce blogue fait l’inventaire des documents les plus pertinents et récents en gouvernance des entreprises. La sélection des billets est le résultat d’une veille assidue des articles de revue, des blogues et sites web dans le domaine de la gouvernance, des publications scientifiques et professionnelles, des études et autres rapports portant sur la gouvernance des sociétés, au Canada et dans d’autres pays, notamment aux États-Unis, au Royaume-Uni, en France, en Europe, et en Australie.

Je fais un choix parmi l’ensemble des publications récentes et pertinentes et je commente brièvement la publication. L’objectif de ce blogue est d’être la référence en matière de documentation en gouvernance dans le monde francophone, en fournissant au lecteur une mine de renseignements récents (les billets quotidiens) ainsi qu’un outil de recherche simple et facile à utiliser pour répertorier les publications en fonction des catégories les plus pertinentes.

Quelques statistiques à propos du blogue Gouvernance | Jacques Grisé

Ce blogue a été initié le 15 juillet 2011 et, à date, il a accueilli plus de 26 000 visiteurs. Le blogue a progressé de manière tout à fait remarquable et, au 30 novembre 2017, il était fréquenté par environ 5 000 visiteurs par mois. Depuis le début, j’ai œuvré à la publication de 1 600 billets.

On note que 44 % des billets sont partagés par l’intermédiaire de LinkedIn et 44 % par différents moteurs de recherche. Les autres réseaux sociaux (Twitter, Facebook et Tumblr) se partagent 13 % des références.

Voici un aperçu du nombre de visiteurs par pays :

  1. Canada (64 %)
  2. France (+ francophonie) (22 %)
  3. Maghreb (Maroc, Tunisie, Algérie) (5 %)
  4. États-Unis (4 %)
  5. Autres pays de provenance (5 %)

Vos commentaires sont toujours grandement appréciés. Je réponds toujours à ceux-ci.

Bonne lecture !

 

 Liste des plus récents billets en gouvernance publiés sur mon blogue au cours du trimestre se terminant le 30 novembre 2017

 

Le processus de gestion des réunions d’un conseil d’administration | Première partie
Cadre de référence pour évaluer la gouvernance des sociétés | Questionnaire de 100 items

Composition du conseil d’administration d’OSBL et recrutement d’administrateurs | Une primeur

Vous siégez à un conseil d’administration | comment bien se comporter ?
Le rôle du comité exécutif vs le rôle du conseil d’administration | En rappel
Gouvernance des sociétés d’État | une étude montre des problèmes dans la moitié d’entre elles
Réflexions sur les bénéfices d’une solide culture organisationnelle
Le rôle du secrétaire général d’une société
Comment bien se comporter lorsque l’on siège à un conseil d’administration ? | En reprise
L’utilisation des huis clos lors des sessions de C.A.
Séparation des fonctions de président du conseil et de chef de la direction : retour sur un grand classique !

Compte rendu hebdomadaire de la Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance | 7 décembre 2017


Voici le compte rendu hebdomadaire du forum de la Harvard Law School sur la gouvernance corporative au 7 décembre 2017.

Cette semaine, j’ai relevé les dix principaux billets.

Bonne lecture !

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « harvard law school forum on corporate governance »

 

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « harvard law school forum on corporate governance »

 


 

  1. Managerial Liability and Corporate Innovation: Evidence from a Legal Shock
  2. Analysis of Updated ISS Voting Policies
  3. Firm Age, Corporate Governance, and Capital Structure
  4. 10 Consensuses on CEO Pay Ratio Planning
  5. Institutional Investor Attention and Demand for Inconsequential Disclosures
  6. Shareholder Proposals in an Era of Reform
  7. SEC Chairman’s Remarks on Small Business Capital Formation
  8. Analysis of SEC Enforcement Division Annual Report
  9. Anatomy of Political Risk in the United States
  10. Activists at the Gate

Faut-il rémunérer les administrateurs d’OBNL ?


Voici un cas publié sur le site de Julie Garland McLellan qui expose un problème très réel dans la plupart des OBNL. Comment la présidente du CA doit-elle agir afin de respecter les politiques de rémunération en vigueur dans son organisme ?

La situation décrite dans ce cas se déroule dans une organisation à but non lucratif (OBNL) qui vient de recruter un nouvel administrateur, sur recommandation du Ministère de l’Éducation, qui provient d’une communauté autochtone bénéficiaire des bourses de l’organisation.

Dans ce cas, le nouvel administrateur a accepté de siéger au conseil sans rémunération et sans remboursement de dépenses. C’est la politique de l’organisme qui s’applique à tous les autres administrateurs.

À la première réunion du CA, celui-ci insiste pour se faire rembourser ses frais de voyage et il demande une rémunération de 1 000 $ par réunion. Devant un refus, il avise le ministère de son insatisfaction.

Comment Victoria, la présidente du conseil, doit-elle agir afin de dénouer cette impasse ?

Le cas présente la situation de manière assez explicite ; puis, trois experts se prononcent sur le dilemme que vit Victoria.

Je vous invite donc à prendre connaissance de ces avis, en cliquant sur le lien ci-dessous, et me faire part de vos commentaires, si vous le souhaitez.

Bonne lecture !

Faut-il rémunérer les administrateurs d’OBNL ? | Un cas particulier

 


Victoria chairs the board of a not-for-profit organisation that offers scholarships at leading boarding schools for children in secondary education from disadvantaged backgrounds and living in regional, rural and remote communities. Many of the beneficiaries are from indigenous peoples and her board was delighted when the Minister for Education offered to help them source a new director. The Minister suggested a high profile and well-connected leader from a beneficiary community. It seemed just what they needed.

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « rémunération OBNL »

The new director met Victoria for a coffee and said that he was delighted to be joining her board as his people had great need for quality education. He had some good insights about sourcing grant funds to supplement their current bequests and donations. He then met some other directors, and all agreed that he would be a perfect addition to the board. A letter of appointment was sent and a consent form was received.

At his first board meeting the new director asked for the company to pay his travel and accommodation in attending the meeting and also for a sitting fee of one thousand dollars. He said this was a legitimate expectation and that he was paid for his service on other boards. The letter of appointment clearly stated that directors were unremunerated and attended meetings at their own cost. Now he has complained to the Minister that he hasn’t been paid and a staffer has called to ask why not.

How can Victoria resolve this difference between the expectations of the board and its new director?

Propositions de changement visant l’établissement de la rémunération des dirigeants des sociétés canadiennes | IGOPP


Yvan Allaire, président exécutif du conseil de l’Institut sur la gouvernance (IGOPP), vient de publier une 9e prise de position sur la rémunération des dirigeants des sociétés canadiennes.

Cette prise de position formule plusieurs recommandations aux conseils d’administration afin de les inciter à modifier les méthodes d’établissement des rémunérations de leurs dirigeants.

Selon l’IGOPP, « cette prise de position se veut un appel pressant à une remise en question de la démarche devenue standard et conventionnelle pour établir la rémunération des dirigeants d’entreprises publiques. Cette démarche, rassurante en raison du nombre de ses adhérents, ne prend en compte aucune particularité de l’entreprise, de son industrie, de son modèle d’affaires, de son horizon de gestion et ses propres leviers de création de valeur. Elle enferme les sociétés dans un moule fabriqué par les conseillers en rémunération, lequel produit de hautes rémunérations, satisfait aux attentes des investisseurs et aux diktats des gendarmes de la gouvernance, mais ne fait pas ce que la rémunération devrait faire.

Cette démarche s’appuie sur des hypothèses en grande partie factices et sans appui empirique : une forte mobilité des dirigeants d’une entreprise à l’autre ; la transférabilité du talent de gestion d’une entreprise à une autre, d’une industrie à une autre, la rémunération “à risque” comme facteur de motivation à de hautes performances ; une sous-estimation du rôle de la chance et du hasard dans la vie des organisations ; un groupe d’entreprises bien sélectionnées pouvant servir de quasi-marché du talent de direction, etc. Les conseils d’administration des grandes entreprises publiques doivent se doter de mécanismes pour aborder de façon collective les moyens, mesures et démarches susceptibles de changer ce système. Il y va de leur légitimité et de leur crédibilité.

Cette prise de position met de l’avant un certain nombre de propositions dont l’adoption, pensons-nous, ferait évoluer positivement l’encadrement des rémunérations. Il est probable que les changements nécessaires surviendront de façon graduelle, mais le but est clair : en arriver à des systèmes de rémunération conçus par le conseil d’administration pour leur entreprise bien spécifique, prenant en compte l’ensemble des parties prenantes de la société et suscitant une gestion à long terme de l’entreprise ».

Les douze propositions présentées par l’IGOPP m’apparaissent très judicieuses. Les conseils d’administration, ainsi que les autorités réglementaires, devraient en prendre bonne note afin d’assurer des mécanismes d’établissement des rémunérations des dirigeants plus appropriés.

 

 

La rémunération des dirigeants | Trancher le noeud gordien

 

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « igopp »

 

La rémunération médiane des chefs de la direction des grandes entreprises publiques canadiennes a plus que doublé entre 1998 et 2007, suivie d’une baisse substantielle de 17,7 % en 2008 en raison de la crise financière. Depuis lors, leur rémunération a repris à la hausse puis s’est stabilisée autour de 8 millions $ depuis 2010.

La rémunération médiane des PDG des six grandes banques canadiennes atteignait 10,5 millions $ en 2016, une baisse notable par comparaison aux 11,8 millions $ de 2010. Le rapport entre la rémunération médiane des PDG des grandes entreprises canadiennes et le salaire moyen gagné par les travailleurs du secteur privé canadien est passé de 62 fois en 1998 à un apogée de 159 fois en 2013 pour terminer à 140 fois en 2016. Ce même rapport pour les PDG des banques a atteint 184 fois en 2016.

Au cours des 20 dernières années, la rémunération des dirigeants d’entreprises fut l’objet de critiques sévères et persistantes, celles-ci étant méritées dans beaucoup de cas.

Pour composer avec les pressions exercées sur eux, la plupart des conseils d’administration ont opté pour une démarche prudente qui consiste à adopter la forme de rémunération devenue un standard, conçue en bonne partie par des conseillers en rémunération et diffusée quasi universellement.

En conséquence, les systèmes de rémunération devinrent de véritables arcanes exigeant des explications longues et détaillées. Ainsi, le nombre moyen de pages consacrées à la description de la rémunération des dirigeants des grandes entreprises canadiennes a quintuplé en une quinzaine d’années à peine, atteignant 34 pages en 2016.

Cette approche « prudente » pour l’établissement des rémunérations se comprend dans les circonstances actuelles alors que les conseils d’administration sont ciblés isolément, doivent réagir au cas par cas, manquent de voix collective, ne jouissent d’aucun forum où discuter et adopter des positions communes et, s’il y a lieu, résister collectivement aux pressions des investisseurs et autres intervenants. En bref, les conseils d’administration n‘ont pas de forum, d’associations ou de « coalition » où se réunir et prendre position comme le fait la Coalition canadienne pour la bonne gouvernance en regroupant les grands investisseurs institutionnels.

Cette prise de position appelle les conseils d’administration à revoir cette démarche standard pour l’établissement des programmes de rémunération, laquelle nous semble déficiente. Laisser tomber les approches devenues standard pour fixer les rémunérations : Le rituel en place pour établir la rémunération est en effet rassurant en vertu du grand nombre d’entreprises qui y ont recours; mais cette approche standard ne prend pas en compte les particularités de l’entreprise et de son industrie, du caractère de son modèle d’affaires, de l’horizon temporel selon lequel sa stratégie se déploie, des leviers de création de valeur qui lui est propre.

Cette démarche enferme les sociétés et leurs conseils d’administration dans un modèle de rémunération conçu par des consultants qui produite de hautes rémunérations tout en satisfaisant aux attentes des

observateurs critiques, mais qui n’atteint pas les objectifs que la rémunération devrait cibler.

Cette démarche standard pour établir la rémunération des dirigeants s’appuie en fait sur des hypothèses empiriquement douteuses sinon carrément fausses: une forte mobilité entre firmes et industries des dirigeants, une haute transférabilité du talent de gestion d’une industrie à une autre, la rémunération «à risque» comme facteur de motivation à de hautes performances, une surévaluation de la relation entre le prix de l’action et les efforts individuels des dirigeants (minimisant le rôle de la chance dans la production de fortes rémunérations) , la notion qu’un groupe témoin d’entreprises bien choisies peut servir de quasi-marché du talent pour établir la valeur marchande du PDG et autres dirigeants, etc.

De façon urgente, les conseils d’administration doivent se doter d’un mécanisme, établir un forum, pour enclencher une démarche concertée pour changer ce système. De leur capacité à tracer une voie nouvelle dépendent leur légitimité et leur crédibilité.

Cette prise de position avance un certain nombre de propositions qui, si elles étaient adoptées, contribueraient à une nouvelle approche, une approche plus conforme aux attentes en matière de rémunération. Cette nouvelle approche pourrait bien s’installer de façon incrémentielle, mais l’objectif est clair : un système de rémunération conçu par le conseil d’administration pour le contexte très spécifique d’une entreprise précise, sensible aux attentes des parties prenantes et induisant la direction à gérer l’entreprise dans une perspective de long terme.

Principales propositions

 

Les entreprises devraient abandonner le principe que la rémunération du PDG doit être établie selon les rémunérations versées aux dirigeants d’entreprises semblables par leur taille, leur chiffre d’affaires, etc. C’est le maillon faible de toute la démarche actuelle de rémunération qui a mené à une augmentation quasi automatique des rémunérations.

Pas d’octrois d’options (sauf dans des circonstances exceptionnelles comme un redressement) et l’attribution d’unités d’actions ne devrait pas être un rite annuel ; les unités devraient être attribuées au moment où un dirigeant assume un poste ou est promu et le niveau de telles unités devrait être revu aux trois ans seulement; ces unités d’actions ne devraient être exerçables qu’au terme d’un nombre d’années établi selon le cycle d’investissement et de gestion de l’industrie à laquelle l’entreprise appartient; selon les situations, le terme pourrait être 1 an, 3 ans, 5 ans, voire 10 ans!

Le conseil devra déclarer dans la Circulaire de sollicitation de procurations qu’il est informé du rapport entre la rémunération du PDG et la rémunération médiane dans l’entreprise ainsi que dans la société civile et qu’il juge ce rapport approprié dans le contexte de l’entreprise, de l’industrie et des valeurs de la société ambiante;

Les arrangements en cas de changement de contrôle devraient comporter les aspects suivants : seules les options et les unités-actions exerçables au moment de l’offre pourront être encaissées, mais au prix de l’action qui prévalait 90 jours avant l’annonce publique d’une offre d’achat pour l’entreprise.

Le conseil est responsable de s’assurer que les dirigeants ne peuvent bénéficier de la plusvalue de leurs options ou unités d’actions provoquées essentiellement par des mesures financières comme le rachat d’actions, la vente d’actifs ou autres mesures.

Tout progrès dans l’implantation de mesures comme celles proposées ici passe par une volonté collective des présidents de conseil des entreprises du TSX 60. Il est impérieux de créer un forum où des propositions comme certaines contenues dans cette prise de position pourraient être discutées et celles faisant consensus, adoptées pour encadrer la démarche de rémunération de toutes ces grandes sociétés canadiennes. Ces positions collectives serviraient de contrepoids aux pressions exercées isolément sur les entreprises.

Cette prise de position interpelle aussi les fonds institutionnels afin qu’ils deviennent des participants engagés dans la solution des dilemmes, paradoxes et labyrinthes que sont devenus les enjeux de rémunération. Ces fonds doivent donner une substance concrète à leur engagement envers la gestion à long terme des sociétés dans lesquelles ils investissent.

 

Nouvelles perspectives pour la gouvernance en 2018


Aujourd’hui, je vous propose la lecture d’un excellent article de Martin Lipton* sur les nouvelles perspectives de la gouvernance en 2018. Cet article est publié sur le site du Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance.

Après une brève introduction portant sur les meilleures pratiques observées dans les entreprises cotées, l’auteur se penche sur les paramètres les plus significatifs de la nouvelle gouvernance.

Les thèmes suivants sont abordés dans un contexte de renouvellement de la gouvernance pour le futur :

  1. La notion de l’actionnariat élargie pour tenir compte des parties prenantes ;
  2. L’importance de considérer le développement durable et la responsabilité sociale des entreprises ;
  3. L’adoption de stratégies favorisant l’engagement à long terme ;
  4. La nécessité de se préoccuper de la composition des membres du CA ;
  5. L’approche à adopter eu égard aux comportements d’actionnaires/investisseurs activistes ;
  6. Les attentes eu égard aux rôles et responsabilités des administrateurs.

À l’approche de la nouvelle année 2018, cette lecture devrait compter parmi les plus utiles pour les administrateurs et les dirigeants d’entreprises ainsi que pour toute personne intéressée par l’évolution des pratiques de gouvernance.

Bonne lecture ! Vos commentaires sont appréciés.

 

Some Thoughts for Boards of Directors in 2018

 

 

Introduction

 

As 2017 draws to a conclusion and we reflect on the evolution of corporate governance since the turn of the millennium, a recurring question percolating in boardrooms and among shareholders and other stakeholders, academics and politicians is: what’s next on the horizon for corporate governance? In many respects, we seem to have reached a point of relative stasis. The governance and takeover defense profiles of U.S. public companies have been transformed by the widespread adoption of virtually all of the “best practices” advocated to enhance the rights of shareholders and weaken takeover defenses.

While the future issues of corporate governance remain murky, there are some emerging themes that portend a potentially profound shift in the way that boards will need to think about their roles and priorities in guiding the corporate enterprise. While these themes are hardly new, they have been gaining momentum in prompting a rethinking of some of the most basic assumptions about corporations, corporate governance and the path forward.

First, while corporate governance continues to be focused on the relationship between boards and shareholders, there has been a shift toward a more expansive view that is prompting questions about the broader role and purpose of corporations. Most of the governance reforms of the past few decades targeted the ways in which boards are structured and held accountable to the interests of shareholders, with debates often boiling down to trade-offs between a board-centric versus a more shareholder-centric framework and what will best create shareholder value. Recently, efforts to invigorate a more long-term perspective among both corporations and their investors have been laying the groundwork for a shift from these process-oriented debates to elemental questions about the basic purpose of corporations and how their success should be measured and defined.

In particular, sustainability has become a major, mainstream governance topic that encompasses a wide range of issues such as climate change and other environmental risks, systemic financial stability, labor standards, and consumer and product safety. Relatedly, an expanded notion of stakeholder interests that includes employees, customers, communities, and the economy and society as a whole has been a developing theme in policymaking and academic spheres as well as with investors. As summarized in a 2017 report issued by State Street Global Advisor,

“Today’s investors are looking for ways to put their capital to work in a more sustainable way, one focused on long-term value creation that enables them to address their financial goals and responsible investing needs. So, for a growing number of institutional investors, the environmental, social and governance (ESG) characteristics of their portfolio are key to their investment strategy.”

While both sustainability and expanded constituency considerations have been emphasized most frequently in terms of their impact on long-term shareholder value, they have also been prompting fresh dialogue about the societal role and purpose of corporations.

Another common theme that underscores many of the corporate governance issues facing boards today is that corporate governance is inherently complex and nuanced, and less amenable to the benchmarking and quantification that was a significant driver in the widespread adoption of corporate governance “best practices.” Prevailing views about what constitutes effective governance have morphed from a relatively binary, check-the-box mentality—such as whether a board is declassified, whether shareholders can act by written consent and whether companies have adopted majority voting standards—to tackling questions such as how to craft a well-rounded board with the skills and experiences that are most relevant to a particular corporation, how to effectively oversee the company’s management of risk, and how to forge relationships with shareholders that meaningfully enhance the company’s credibility. Companies and investors alike have sought to formulate these “next generation” governance issues in a way that facilitates comparability, objective assessment and accountability. For example, many companies have been including skills matrices in their proxy statements to show, in a visual snapshot, that their board composition encompasses appropriate skills and experiences. Yet, to the extent that complicated governance issues cannot be reduced to simple, user-friendly metrics, it remains to be seen whether this will prompt new ways of defining “good” corporate governance that require a deeper understanding of companies and their businesses, and the impact that could have on the expectations and practices of stakeholders.

Against this backdrop, a few of the more significant issues that boards of directors will face in the coming year, as well as an overview of some key roles and responsibilities, are highlighted below. Parts II through VI contain brief summaries of some of the leading proposals and thinking for corporate governance of the future. In Part VII, we turn to the issues boards of directors will face in 2018 and suggestions as to how to prepare to deal with them.

 

Expanded Stakeholders

 

The primacy of shareholder value as the exclusive objective of corporations, as articulated by Milton Friedman and then thoroughly embraced by Wall Street, has come under scrutiny by regulators, academics, politicians and even investors. While the corporate governance initiatives of the past year cannot be categorized as an abandonment of the shareholder primacy agenda, there are signs that academic commentators, legislators and some investors are looking at more nuanced and tempered approaches to creating shareholder value.

In his 2013 book, Firm Commitment: Why the Corporation is Failing Us and How to Restore Trust in It, and a series of brilliant articles and lectures, Colin Mayer of the University of Oxford has convincingly rejected shareholder value primacy and put forth proposals to reconceive the business corporation so that it is committed to all its stakeholders, including the community and the general economy. His new book, Prosperity: Better Business Makes the Greater Good, to be published by Oxford University Press in 2018, continues the theme of his earlier publications and will be required reading.

Similarly, an influential working paper by Oliver Hart and Luigi Zingales argues that the appropriate objective of the corporation is shareholder welfare rather than shareholder wealth. Hart and Zingales advocate that corporations and asset managers should pursue policies consistent with the preferences of their investors, specifically because corporations may be able to accomplish objectives that shareholders acting individually cannot. In such a setting, the implicit separability assumption underlying Milton Friedman’s theory of the purpose of the firm fails to produce the best outcome for shareholders. Indeed, even though Hart and Zingales propose a revision that remains shareholder-centered, by recognizing the unique capability of corporations to engage in certain kinds of activities, their theory invites a careful consideration of other goals such as sustainability, board diversity and employee welfare, and even such social concerns, as, for example, reducing mass violence or promoting environmental stewardship. Such a model of corporate decision-making emphasizes the importance of boards establishing a relationship with significant shareholders to understand shareholder goals, beyond simply assuming that an elementary wealth maximization framework is the optimal path.

Perhaps closer to a wholesale rejection of the shareholder primacy agenda, an article by Joseph L. Bower and Lynn S. Paine, featured in the May-June 2017 issue of the Harvard Business Review, attacks the fallacies of the economic theories that have been used since 1970 to justify shareholder-centric corporate governance, short-termism and activist attacks on corporations. In questioning the benefits of hedge fund activism, Bower and Paine argue that some of the value purportedly created for shareholders by activists is not actually value created, but rather value transferred from other parties or from the public purse, such as shifting a company’s tax domicile to a lower-tax jurisdiction or eliminating exploratory research and development. The article supports the common sense notion that boards have a fiduciary duty not just to shareholders, but also to employees, customers and the community—a constituency theory of governance penned into law in a number of states’ business corporation laws.

Moreover, this theme has been metastasizing from a theoretical debate into specific reform initiatives that, if implemented, could have a direct impact on boards. For example, Delaware and 32 other states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation approving a new corporate form—the benefit corporation —a for-profit corporate entity with expanded fiduciary obligations of boards to consider other stakeholders in addition to shareholders. Benefit corporations are mandated by law to consider their overall positive impact on society, their workers, the communities in which they operate and the environment, in addition to the goal of maximizing shareholder profit.

This broader sense of corporate purpose has been gaining traction among shareholders. For example, the endorsement form for the Principles published by the Investor Stewardship Group in 2017 includes:

“[I]t is the fiduciary responsibility of all asset managers to conduct themselves in accordance with the preconditions for responsible engagement in a manner that accrues to the best interests of stakeholders and society in general, and that in so doing they’ll help to build a framework for promoting long-term value creation on behalf of U.S. companies and the broader U.S. economy.”

Notions of expanded stakeholder interests have often been incorporated into the concept of long-termism, and advocating a long-term approach has also entailed the promotion of a broader range of stakeholder interests without explicitly eroding the primacy of shareholder value. Recently, however, the interests of other stakeholders have increasingly been articulated in their own right rather than as an adjunct to the shareholder-centric model of corporate governance. Ideas about the broader social purpose of corporations have the potential to drive corporate governance reforms into uncharted territory requiring navigation of new questions about how to measure and compare corporate performance, how to hold companies accountable and how to incentivize managers.

 

Sustainability

 

The meaning of sustainability is no longer limited to describing environmental practices, but rather more broadly encompasses the sustainability of a corporation’s business model in today’s fast-changing world. The focus on sustainability encompasses the systemic sustainability of public markets and pressures boards to think about corporate strategy and how governance should be structured to respond to and compete in this environment.

Recently, the investing world has seen a rise of ESG-oriented funds—previously a small, niche segment of the investment community. Even beyond these specialized funds, ESG has also become a focus of a broad range of traditional investment funds and institutional investors. For instance, BlackRock and State Street both offer their investors products that specifically focus on ESG-oriented topics like climate change and impact investing—investing with an intention of generating a specific social or environmental outcome alongside financial returns.

At the beginning of 2017, State Street’s CEO Ronald P. O’Hanley wrote a letter advising the boards of the companies in which State Street invests that State Street defines sustainability “as encompassing a broad range of environmental, social and governance issues that include, for example, effective independent board leadership and board composition, diversity and talent development, safety issues, and climate change.” The letter was a reminder that broader issues that impact all of a company’s stakeholders may have a material effect on a company’s ability to generate returns. Chairman and CEO of BlackRock, Laurence D. Fink remarked similarly in his January 2017 letter that

“[e]nvironmental, social and governance factors relevant to a company’s business can provide essential insights into management effectiveness and thus a company’s long-term prospects. We look to see that a company is attuned to the key factors that contribute to long-term growth: sustainability of the business model and its operations, attention to external and environmental factors that could impact the company, and recognition of the company’s role as a member of the communities in which it operates.”

Similarly, the UN Principles for Responsible Investment remind corporations that ESG factors should be incorporated into all investment decisions to better manage risk and generate sustainable, long-term returns.

Shareholders’ engagement with ESG issues has also increased. Previously, ESG was somewhat of a fringe issue with ESG-related shareholder proxy proposals rarely receiving significant shareholder support. This is no longer the case. In the 2017 proxy season, the two most common shareholder proposal topics related to social (201 proposals) and environmental (144 proposals, including 69 on climate change) issues, as opposed to 2016’s top two topics of proxy access (201) and social issues (160). Similar to cybersecurity and other risk management issues, sustainability practices involve the nuts and bolts of operations—e.g., life-cycle assessments of a product and management of key performance indicators (KPIs) using management information systems that facilitate internal and public reporting—and provide another example of an operational issue that has become a board/governance issue.

The expansion of sustainability requires all boards—not just boards of companies with environmentally sensitive businesses—to be aware of and be ready to respond to ESG-related concerns. The salient question is whether “best” sustainability practices will involve simply the “right” messaging and disclosures, or whether investors and companies will converge on a method to measure sustainability practices that affords real impact on capital allocation, risk-taking and proactive—as opposed to reactive—strategy.

Indeed, measurement and accountability are perhaps the elephants in the room when it comes to sustainability. Many investors appear to factor sustainability into their investing decisions. Other ways to measure sustainability practices include the presence of a Chief Sustainability Officer or Corporate Responsibility Committee. However, while there are numerous disclosure frameworks relating to sustainability and ESG practices, there is no centralized ESG rating system. Further, rating methodologies and assessments of materiality vary widely across ESG data providers and disclosure requirements vary across jurisdictions.

Pending the development of clear and agreed standards to benchmark performance on ESG issues, boards of directors should focus on understanding how their significant investors value and measure ESG issues, including through continued outreach and engagement with investors focusing on these issues, and should seek tangible agreed-upon methodologies to address these areas, while also promoting the development of improved metrics and disclosure.

Promoting a Long-Term Perspective

 

As the past year’s corporate governance conversation has explored considerations outside the goal of maximizing shareholder value, the conversation within the shareholder value maximization framework has also continued to shift toward an emphasis on long-term value rather than short term. A February 2017 discussion paper from the McKinsey Global Institute in cooperation with Focusing Capital on the Long Term found that long-term focused companies, as measured by a number of factors including investment, earnings quality and margin growth, generally outperformed shorter-term focused companies in both financial and other performance measures. Long-term focused companies had greater, and less volatile, revenue growth, more spending on research and development, greater total returns to shareholders and more employment than other firms.

This empirical evidence that corporations focused on stakeholders and long-term investment contribute to greater economic growth and higher GDP is consistent with innovative corporate governance initiatives. A new startup, comprised of veterans of the NYSE and U.S. Treasury Department, is working on creating the “Long-Term Stock Exchange”—a proposal to build and operate an entirely new stock exchange where listed companies would have to satisfy not only all of the normal SEC requirements to allow shares to trade on other regulated U.S. stock markets but, in addition, other requirements such as tenured shareholder voting power (permitting shareholder voting to be proportionately weighted by the length of time the shares have been held), mandated ties between executive pay and long-term business performance and disclosure requirements informing companies who their long-term shareholders are and informing investors of what companies’ long-term investments are.

In addition to innovative alternatives, numerous institutional investors and corporate governance thought leaders are rethinking the mainstream relationship between all boards of directors and institutional investors to promote a healthier focus on long-term investment. While legislative reform has taken a stronger hold in the U.K. and Europe, leading American companies and institutional investors are pushing for a private sector solution to increase long-term economic growth. Commonsense Corporate Governance Principles and The New Paradigm: A Roadmap for an Implicit Corporate Governance Partnership Between Corporations and Investors to Achieve Sustainable Long-Term Investment and Growth were published in hopes of recalibrating the relationship between boards and institutional investors to protect the economy against the short-term myopic approach to management and investing that promises to impede long-term economic prosperity. Under a similar aim, the Investor Stewardship Group published its Stewardship Principles and Corporate Governance Principles, set to become effective in January 2018, to establish a framework with six principles for investor stewardship and six principles for corporate governance to promote long-term value creation in American business. A Synthesized Paradigm for Corporate Governance, Investor Stewardship, and Engagement provides a synthesis of these and others in the hope that companies and investors would agree on a common approach. In fact, over 100 companies to date have signed The Compact for Responsive and Responsible Leadership: A Roadmap for Sustainable Long-Term Growth and Opportunity, sponsored by the World Economic Forum, which includes the key features of The New Paradigm.

Similarly, the BlackRock Investment Stewardship team has proactively outlined five focus areas for its engagement efforts: Governance, Corporate Strategy for the Long-Term, Executive Compensation that Promotes Long-Termism, Disclosure of Climate Risks, and Human Capital Management. BlackRock’s outline reflects a number of key trends, including heightened transparency by institutional investors, more engagement by “passive” investors, and continued disintermediation of proxy advisory firms. In the United Kingdom, The Investor Forum was founded to provide an intermediary to represent the views of its investor members to investee companies in the hope of reducing activism, and appears to have achieved a successful start.

Similarly, in June 2017, the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism and Ernst & Young jointly announced the launch of a project on long-term value creation. Noting among other elements that trust and social cohesion are necessary ingredients for the long-term success of capitalism, the project will emphasize reporting mechanisms and credible measurements supporting long-term value, developing and testing a framework to better reflect the full value companies create beyond simply financial value. There is widespread agreement that focusing on long-term investment will promote long-term economic growth. The next step is a consensus between companies and investors on a common path of action that will lead to restored trust and cohesion around long-term goals.

 

Board Composition

 

The corporate governance conversation has become increasingly focused on board composition, including board diversity. Recent academic studies have confirmed and expanded upon existing empirical evidence that hedge fund activism has been notably counterproductive in increasing gender diversity—yet another negative externality of this type of activism. Statistical evidence supports the hypothesis that the rate of shareholder activism is higher toward female CEOs holding all else equal, including industries, company sizes and levels of performance. A study forthcoming in the Journal of Applied Psychology investigated the reasons that hedge fund activists seemingly ignore the evidence for gender-diverse boards in their choices for director nominees and disproportionately target female CEOs. The authors suggest these reasons may include subconscious biases of hedge funds against women leaders due to perceptions and cultural attitudes.

In the United Kingdom, the focus on board diversity has spread into policy. The House of Commons Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy Committee report on Corporate Governance, issued in 2017, included recommendations for improving ethnic, gender and social diversity of boards, noting that “[to] be an effective board, individual directors need different skills, experience, personal attributes and approaches.” The U.K. government’s response to this report issued in September 2017 notes its agreement on various diversity-related issues, stating that the “Government agrees with the Committee that it makes business sense to recruit directors from as broad a base as possible across the demographic of the UK” and further, tying into themes of stakeholder capitalism, that the “Government believes that greater diversity within the boardroom can help companies connect with their workforces, supply chains, customers and shareholders.”

In the United States, institutional investors are focused on a range of board composition issues, including term limits, board refreshment, diversity, skills matrices and board evaluation processes, as well as disclosures regarding these issues. In a recent letter, Vanguard explained that it considers the board to be “one of a company’s most critical strategic assets” and looks for a “high-functioning, well-composed, independent, diverse, and experienced board with effective ongoing evaluation practices,” stating that “Good governance starts with a great Board.” The New York Comptroller’s Boardroom Accountability Project 2.0 is focused on increasing diversity of boards in order to strengthen their independence and competency. In connection with launching this campaign, the NYC Pension Funds asked the boards of 151 U.S. companies to disclose the race and gender of their directors alongside board members’ skills in a standardized matrix format. And yet, similar to the difficulty of measuring and comparing sustainability efforts of companies, investors and companies alike continue to struggle with how to measure and judge a board’s diversity, and board composition generally, as the conversation becomes more nuanced. Board composition and diversity aimed at increasing board independence and competency is not a topic that lends itself to a “check-the-box” type measurement.

In light of the heightened emphasis on board composition, boards should consider increasing their communications with their major shareholders about their director selection and nomination processes to show the board understands the importance of its composition. Boards should consider disclosing how new director candidates are identified and evaluated, how committee chairs and the lead director are determined, and how the operations of the board as a whole and the performance of each director are assessed. Boards may also focus on increasing tutorials, facility visits, strategic retreats and other opportunities to increase the directors’ understanding of the company’s business—and communicate such efforts to key shareholders and constituents.

 

Activism

 

Despite the developments and initiatives striving to protect and promote long-term investment, the most dangerous threat to long-term economic prosperity has continued to surge in the past year. There has been a significant increase in activism activity in countries around the world and no slowdown in the United States. The headlines of 2017 were filled with activists who do not fit the description of good stewards of the long-term interests of the corporation. A must-read Bloombergarticle described Paul Singer, founder of Elliott Management Corp., which manages $34 billion of assets, as “aggressive, tenacious and litigious to a fault” and perhaps “the most feared activist investor in the world.” Numerous recent activist attacks underscore that the CEO remains a favored activist target. Several major funds have become more nuanced and taken a merchant banker approach of requesting board representation to assist a company to improve operations and strategy for long-term success. No company is too big for an activist attack. Substantial new capital has been raised by activist hedge funds and several activists have created special purpose funds for investment in a single target. As long as activism remains a serious threat, the economy will continue to experience the negative externalities of this approach to investing—companies attempting to avoid an activist attack are increasingly managed for the short term, cutting important spending on research and development and focusing on short-term profits by effecting share buybacks and paying dividends at the expense of investing in a strategy for long-term growth.

To minimize the impact of activist attacks, boards must focus on building relationships with major institutional investors. The measure of corporate governance success has shifted from checking the right boxes to building the right relationships. Major institutional investors have reiterated their commitment to bringing a long-term perspective to public companies, including, for example, Vanguard, which sent an open letter to directors of public companies world-wide explaining that a long-term perspective informed every aspect of its investment approach. Only by forging relationships of trust and credibility with long-term shareholders can a company expect to gain support for its long-term strategy when it needs it. In many instances, when an activist does approach, a previously established relationship provides a foundation for management and the board to persuade key shareholders that short-term activism is not in their best interest—an effort that is already showing some promise. General Motors’ resounding defeat of Greenlight Capital’s attempt to gain shareholder approval to convert its common stock into two classes shows a large successful company’s ability to garner the

support of its institutional investors against financial engineering. Trian’s recent proxy fight against Procter & Gamble shows the importance of proactively establishing relationships with long-term shareholders. Given Trian’s proven track record of success in urging changes in long-term strategy, Nelson Peltz was able to gain support for a seat on P&G’s board from proxy advisors and major institutional investors. We called attention to importantlessons from this proxy fight (discussed on the Forum here and here).

 

Spotlight on Boards

 

The ever-evolving challenges facing corporate boards prompts an updated snapshot of what is expected from the board of directors of a major public company—not just the legal rules, but also the aspirational “best practices” that have come to have equivalent influence on board and company behavior. In the coming year, boards will be expected to:

Oversee corporate strategy and the communication of that strategy to investors;

Set the tone at the top to create a corporate culture that gives priority to ethical standards, professionalism, integrity and compliance in setting and implementing strategic goals;

Choose the CEO, monitor the CEO’s and management’s performance and develop a succession plan;

Determine the agendas for board and committee meetings and work with management to assure appropriate information and sufficient time are available for full consideration of all matters;

Determine the appropriate level of executive compensation and incentive structures, with awareness of the potential impact of compensation structures on business priorities and risk-taking, as well as investor and proxy advisor views on compensation;

Develop a working partnership with the CEO and management and serve as a resource for management in charting the appropriate course for the corporation;

Oversee and understand the corporation’s risk management and compliance efforts, and how risk is taken into account in the corporation’s business decision-making; respond to red flags when and if they arise (see Risk Management and the Board of Directors, discussed on the Forum here);

Monitor and participate, as appropriate, in shareholder engagement efforts, evaluate potential corporate governance proposals and anticipate possible activist attacks in order to be able to address them more effectively;

Evaluate the board’s performance on a regular basis and consider the optimal board and committee composition and structure, including board refreshment, expertise and skill sets, independence and diversity, as well as the best way to communicate with investors regarding these issues;

Review corporate governance guidelines and committee charters and tailor them to promote effective board functioning;

Be prepared to deal with crises; and

Be prepared to take an active role in matters where the CEO may have a real or perceived conflict, including takeovers and attacks by activist hedge funds focused on the CEO.

To meet these expectations, major public companies should seek to:

Have a sufficient number of directors to staff the requisite standing and special committees and to meet expectations for diversity;

Have directors who have knowledge of, and experience with, the company’s businesses, even if this results in the board having more than one director who is not “independent”;

Have directors who are able to devote sufficient time to preparing for and attending board and committee meetings;

Meet investor expectations for director age, diversity and periodic refreshment;

Provide the directors with the data that is critical to making sound decisions on strategy, compensation and capital allocation;

Provide the directors with regular tutorials by internal and external experts as part of expanded director education; and

Maintain a truly collegial relationship among and between the company’s senior executives and the members of the board that enhances the board’s role both as strategic partner and as monitor.

______________________________________

*Martin Lipton is a founding partner of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, specializing in mergers and acquisitions and matters affecting corporate policy and strategy. This post is based on a Wachtell Lipton publication by Mr. Lipton, Steven A. Rosenblum, Karessa L. Cain, Sabastian V. Niles, Vishal Chanani, and Kathleen C. Iannone.

%d blogueurs aiment ce contenu :