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Shareholder activism

Why Exxon Is Suing Its Shareholders

Last month, ExxonMobil sued two of its “activist investors” — groups that try to use shareholder resolutions to pressure companies into taking action on social and environmental problems — in an attempt to block a proposal for the oil giant to limit its climate pollution from coming to a vote at an upcoming shareholder meeting. Follow This and Arjuna Capital announced on February 2 that they would withdraw their proposal from the ballot and promised not to refile. But Exxon says it will move forward with its lawsuit anyway. “We believe there are still important issues for the court to resolve,” an Exxon spokesperson said of the lawsuit, which is the first of its kind to try to take a climate resolution off the ballot. “There is no change to our plans.”

How Some Amazon Shareholders Allied With The Labour Movement

During Amazon’s annual general meeting on May 24, a proposal for an independent audit on working conditions in Amazon warehouses did not pass. This was unsurprising after Amazon’s Board of Directors advised their shareholders to vote against the proposal ahead of the meeting. The Board of Directors recommended against passing the proposal because they claim that the company regularly enhances safety processes and programs, they have shared workforce incident rates, they are transparent about their commitment to improve workplace safety and because there are already “independent directors” who review workplace incidents.

Activist Shareholders For Smith And Wesson Embrace The Long View

The killing of seven people and wounding of 47 more in Highland Park, Illinois on July 4 was committed with a weapon made by Smith & Wesson, the world’s biggest firearms manufacturer.  So was the killing of 17 people at Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Perhaps it’s no surprise that guns made by Smith & Wesson would be implicated in gun crimes, a category that reached record heights in the United States last year. Neither is it a surprise that the issue crosses U.S. borders. In a lawsuit targeting major gun manufacturers, the Mexican government cited numerous examples of Smith & Wesson rifles being smuggled over the border to criminal cartels. The company is well aware, the lawsuit says, “that its marketing would motivate and attract criminal users — including the cartels — to select and misuse its products in unlawful acts of violence.”

General Dynamics Board Shuts Down Demand For Transparency

During this section there was a very notable proposal introduced by the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, NY requesting that the General Dynamics Board of Directors prepare a human rights report. The proposal points out that General Dynamics’ products and services are used by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, and U.S. government agencies at the U.S.-Mexico border. As General Dynamics’ weapons are used in war crimes and human rights violations against Yemenis, Palestinians, asylum-seekers and beyond, this proposal rightfully calls for General Dynamics to develop and provide transparency on their process to address and remedy the “actual and potential human rights impacts associated with high-risk products and services.” 

Judge Gives Lawyers 24 Hours To Identify Executives Who Ordered Bribes

Further scuttling a proposed settlement for FirstEnergy’s shareholders, a federal judge demanded their lawyers, within 24 hours, answer his question about which company officials ordered what has been described as the largest political bribery scheme in Ohio history. Both FirstEnergy and its shareholders were on the cusp of a settling the shareholders’ derivative lawsuit, announcing an agreement in February pending judicial review. It calls for FirstEnergy’s insurers to pay the company $180 million for damages incurred in the scandal. The proposed settlement also would force out six members of the board of directors when their terms expire and require corporate reforms related to “political and lobbying activities.”

Alta Mesa Executives Ignored Their Engineers And Mislead Investors

In April, a judge ruled that a lawsuit filed by former investors in the shale oil company Alta Mesa could proceed. Their case alleges multiple instances of fraud and reveals that not only did engineers in the company warn executives that they were lying to investors about oil production estimates but that executives went on to ignore those warnings. Alta Mesa is among a string of oil and gas companies that in recent years have either been accused or found guilty of fraud, including ExxonMobil and Miller Energy. Many of these emerging fraud cases show a consistent pattern of employees warning leadership that they were misleading investors about how much oil the companies could reasonably produce in the future, but rather than changing course the employees were ignored or fired.

Tech Giants Face Rising pressure from shareholder activists

Activist shareholders are pushing for the proposals to be adopted during this week’s annual meetings, the first to be held after a year that’s included nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol and challenging working conditions for many on-site workers in the tech industry.

Shareholders Push To End Secret Political Spending

Popular Information focuses a lot of attention on the activities of corporate PACs, even though the dollar figures involved are relatively small. Corporate PACs can contribute a maximum of $5,000 per election to a federal candidate. For a typical candidate that has a primary and general election, that's $10,000 per cycle.  So why do we spend so much time tracking this spending? Because corporate PACs are one of the few aspects of corporate political spending that is fully transparent. All of the money donated by corporate PACs to federal candidates is reported to the FEC. Things are a bit more complex on the state level, but it's a similar dynamic. Most states also have fairly regular disclosure of corporate PAC donations. Some states allow corporations to donate directly to candidates but those donations still must be disclosed.

Shareholders Demand Dominion Energy Clean Up Its Reporting

Shareholders have submitted a resolution calling on Dominion Energy to fully disclose its lobbying efforts. The resolution will be voted on Wednesday morning at Dominion’s annual meeting.  When Dominion released a statement encouraging shareholders to oppose the resolution, the shareholders responded with a 12 page memo explaining why they should vote yes on Item #4 Dominion’s Report on Lobbying. The memo includes a deep dive into Dominion’s involvement with organizations associated with fraud, corruption and the recent rally before the insurrection attempt on January 6 at the US Capitol Building. From the memo: “Proponents believe Dominion’s trade associations’ activities are jeopardizing our Company’s reputation.

Activist Investor Urges Exxon Shareholders To Vote Against Directors

The activist investor leading a proxy fight to reshape Exxon Mobil Corp on Monday named the four directors it wants shareholders to remove at the oil company’s upcoming annual general meeting. The investor, Engine No. 1, is a small fund that last year took on the top U.S. oil producer for what it said was poor financial returns and a lagging approach to cleaner fuels. Exxon since has vowed to cut its debt, invest more in low-carbon initiatives, and improve returns. The fund singled out for removal three former chief executives of prominent U.S. companies and the former head of Malaysia’s state-run oil firm who joined the board last month. Its nominees for the board include a former U.S. Energy Department official and an executive at a wind turbine developer-manufacturer.

P&G Investors Challenge CEO Over Forest Destruction Concerns

Washington - In a shocking move by Procter & Gamble’s shareholders that defied the company’s own recommendations, two-thirds of Procter & Gamble (P&G) shareholders voted “yes” at the company’s annual meeting on Tuesday, October 13, to pass a proposal on forest sourcing and impacts. The vote is a clear indication that despite repeated insistence from company executives, the world’s largest consumer goods company is not doing enough to deal with the financial threats of deforestation and forest degradation in its supply chains.

Corporations Should Have To Hear From Their Owners

When we think about ways to pressure corporations to improve their practices, we may think of petitions, street demonstrations, boycotts, or social media campaigns. Yet there’s another way that’s been used effectively for decades. It involves those who stand to gain from keeping companies healthy over the long term. It’s called shareholder action. Surprised? Shareholders, who are part-owners of the companies in which they invest, can use their investor status to pressure companies to be better corporate citizens. You’re a shareholder if you buy stock in a company. While not usually in the limelight, people who care about the social and environmental impacts of the companies in which they invest have helped improve corporate conduct for decades.

Challenging A Wall Street Giant On Pay

By Inequality.org staff. Investor and philanthropist Stephen Silberstein has set up a CEO pay showdown at the May 25 BlackRock annual meeting in New York City. The Wall Street firm’s CEO, Laurence Fink, is a classic example of “pay for nonperformance,” hauling in $26 million in compensation last year despite a significant drop in the company’s share price. But it gets worse. As the world’s largest money manager, BlackRock holds shares in thousands of U.S. corporations. And when it comes time to vote every year on those corporations’ executive pay packages, BlackRock nearly always rubberstamps the proposals — no matter how bloated they may be. Silberstein has filed a shareholder resolution with BlackRock that would require management to come up with plans for “bringing its voting practices in line with its stated principle of linking executive compensation and performance.” Inequality.org co-editor Sarah Anderson talked with Steve about his strategy.

Investors Urge FCC to Protect Net Neutrality

A group of investment firms and foundations with widely-diversified investment portfolios today called upon the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt network neutrality rules that would protect an open Internet. They recommended reclassification of broadband Internet service under Title II of the Communications Act, giving the FCC clear regulatory authority over the Internet network infrastructure that serves millions of individuals, entrepreneurs and established businesses throughout the U.S. Network neutrality is the principle that all Internet content and applications should be treated equally regardless of the source. It prohibits blocking and discrimination and bars Internet service providers from offering paid priority “fast lanes” for some content. “We believe open Internet policies help drive the economy, encourage innovation and reward investors,” the group said. The FCC filing highlighted the importance of network neutrality rules for start-up and technology companies as well as small and medium-sized businesses and companies that address critical needs such as healthcare, education and banking.

Uranium Mining Protesters At Cameco Shareholders Meeting

The agenda for Cameco’s annual general meeting took a turn Wednesday when a group of protesters showed up at Cameco’s head office. The focus shifted from updating shareholders on the financial future of the company to the ethics and environmental impact of uranium mining in northern Saskatchewan. The protest of about 25 people was organized by members of the English River First Nation but was attended by people from all over the province including Lumsden, Outlook, Standing Buffalo, Saskatoon and an outspoken woman from La Ronge. “All we will have done is increase the amount of radioactivity on the land,” said Kirsten Scansen, of La Ronge, Sask. “It’s making our food, our land base, our wild meats, our fish, our plants, our berries, making them more dangerous in our lives and decreasing our livelihood, decreasing our health, decreasing our well being.” The protesters biggest concerns are the radioactive tailings ponds left in the north and the high grade nuclear waste being disposed of.
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