Le processus d’engagement du C.A. avec les actionnaires |Tendances globales

En tant qu’administrateurs de sociétés, nous sommes de plus en plus confrontés aux demandes de réunions spéciales avec les actionnaires. Que devons-nous faire ? Comment accueillir ces demandes ? Quelle position devons-nous adopter à cet égard ? Qui doit initier les démarches ? Quelles sont les expériences vécues par les organisations à ce sujet ?

L’article qui suit vous mettra à jour sur la nature du processus d’engagement du C.A. avec les actionnaires, sur les bénéfices potentiels à s’engager dans cette activité, sur les pratiques à l’échelle mondiale et sur les manières de faire.

Cet article a été publié par  James Kim et Jason D. Schloetzer dans la série Director Notes du Conference Board; vous trouverez, ci-dessous, un extrait d’un billet paru récemment sur le blogue du Harvard Law School Forum.

Je vous invite à lire cet article au complet car vous y découvrirez d’excellents arguments à aller de l’avant (tout en étant très vigilant) ainsi que plusieurs exemples d’entreprises qui se sont sérieusement engagées dans cette voie.

Global Trends in Board-Shareholder Engagement


There has been a rapid increase in shareholder requests for special meetings with the board. This report discusses the potential benefits and complexities of the board-shareholder engagement process, reviews global trends in engagement practices, provides insights into engagement activities at U.S. companies, and highlights developments in the use of technology to facilitate engagement. It also provides perspectives from institutional investors on the design of an effective engagement process.

The annual general meeting is the main channel of communication between a company’s board and its shareholders. Among other important meeting activities, shareholders have the opportunity to hear executives and directors discuss recent performance and outline the company’s long-term strategy.

Intel Board of Directors
Intel Board of Directors (Photo credit: IntelFreePress)

Since 2007, there has been an increase in shareholder requests for special meetings with the board. A recent study of board-shareholder engagement activities shows that 87 percent of security issuers, 70 percent of asset managers, and 62 percent of asset owners reported at least one engagement in the previous year. Moreover, the level of engagement is increasing rapidly, with 50 percent of issuers, 64 percent of asset managers, and 53 percent of asset owners reporting that they were engaging more. Only 6 percent of issuers and almost no investors reported a decrease in engagement. Shareholders, particularly institutional investors, believe that annual meetings are too infrequent and do not provide sufficient content to address their concerns.

The increase in engagement parallels a wave of shareholder activism that emerged in the mid-2000s. Proxy advisory firms, such as Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), have helped to foster a new environment for board-shareholder engagement. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Rule 14a-21(a), adopted in 2011 to implement provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act), requires public companies to include a “say-on-pay” vote in their proxy statements at least once every three years. The advisory vote has provided shareholders more voice in executive compensation. Annual meetings are now preceded by an increased level of engagement activity as more shareholders express their desire to influence corporate policies.

More generally, there is a common view in the current governance environment that directors should respond to shareholder questions regarding executive compensation, corporate strategy, financial performance, campaign financing, environmental and social issues, and corporate governance matters. Not surprisingly, say on pay and the appointment of an independent board chairman remain the primary focus of board-shareholder engagement activity in 2013.

En terminant retenez cet autre extrait de l’article qui présente un résumé du processus d’engagement entre actionnaires et conseil d’administration :

« Several representatives of prominent institutional investors at the June conference shared their perspectives regarding an effective board-shareholder engagement process.

  1. Proactively reach out to your largest 15 to 20 institutional investors. Large institutional investors, particularly value investors with a longer-term investment horizon, are more likely to confront companies on specific issues than index/fund investors.
  2. Offer to schedule a 30-minute phone call with each institutional investor to discuss the company’s executive compensation plan as well as any corporate governance concerns.
  3. Be certain that at least the lead independent director and a knowledgeable person from the investor relations, human resources, and legal departments are on the call and have authority to answer shareholder questions. If your company has experienced poor say-on-pay votes in recent years, the compensation committee chairman should also participate. It is generally preferable that the CEO and the company’s compensation consultant do not participate, particularly when the main topic of discussion will be executive compensation.
  4. An effective agenda for a 30-minute call is as follows: devote the first five minutes to summarizing the overall business activities of the company (investor relations), five minutes to explaining how the performance measures included in executive compensation plans are linked to corporate strategy (human resources, compensation committee chairman, lead independent director), and five minutes summarizing outstanding shareholder proposals (general counsel). The remaining 15 minutes should be devoted to two-way discussion between the company and the shareholder.
  5. If the company has faced specific concerns about its compensation design in prior years, the compensation committee should make an effort to improve its Compensation Discussion and Analysis (CD&A) disclosure. A clearly written CD&A—particularly the Executive Summary—can reduce the need for separate meetings and one-on-one conversations about compensation. Directors should write the CD&A with its major shareholders in mind. The CFA Institute’s CD&A Template offers ideas for boards on how to organize the CD&A disclosure. The template is currently used by a number of companies, including Pfizer, American Express Company, General Electric, and Morningstar ».

Oracle’s executive pay deals under fire from investors (theguardian.com)

The (Advisory) Ties That Bind Executive Pay (blogs.law.harvard.edu)

Global Trends in Board-Shareholder Engagement (blogs.law.harvard.edu)

Sérieux rapprochement entre les actionnaires activistes et les actionnaires institutionnels (jacquesgrisegouvernance.com)

Oracle executive pay deal again rejected by shareholders (theguardian.com)

Proxy Contests on the Rise – Activists Emboldened by Success (levick.com)

Statistiques sur les « Proxy Contests » (jacquesgrisegouvernance.com)

Board Members Versus Hedge Fund Activists (venitism.blogspot.com)

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