Daily Management Review

SEC Guidance Used By Apple To Try And Block Climate And Rights Related Shareholder Proposals


12/11/2017




SEC Guidance Used By Apple To Try And Block Climate And Rights Related Shareholder Proposals
At Apple Inc., there is a possibility that the rights of investors could get sharply restricted as the IT giant is pushing back on the proposals of shareholders related to climate issues and human rights concerns.
 
Apple is expected to publish a proxy early next year just before its annual general meeting and despite the expectations that all of the shareholder proposals be put forward in the proxy, Apple wants to leave out at least four shareholder proposals, which according to an attorney for the California computer maker, is related to “ordinary business” this was disclosed to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last month in letters from the attorney of the iPhone maker.
 
The responsibility of deciding which resolution is important enough and relates to any form significant policy issues that it should be put to vote is best left too the company board because they are best positioned for it, said the Apple attorney, Gene Levoff, citing guidance issued by the SEC on Nov. 1.
 
Sanford Lewis, a Massachusetts attorney representing Apple shareholders who had filed two of the resolutions said that Apple’s making use of the new SEC guidance exhibits the manner in which the guidance may be used for ignoring many investor proposals through claims that company boards regularly review those areas despite the fact that most companies regularly seek permission for excluding shareholder proposals.
 
Were the SEC to side with Apple, “this would be an incredibly dangerous precedent that would essentially say a great many proposals could be omitted,” Lewis said.
 
There were no additional comments made by an Apple spokesman apart from its letters to the SEC.
 
There were no comments made from an SEC spokeswoman. Brining in improvement in the resolution process is the aim of bringing in the new guidelines, officials of the SEC had previously said.
 
With respect to areas and issues related to the likes of climate change or board diversity, proposals tend to get the backing of big asset managers increasingly and therefore shareholder measures have taken on new significance even though earlier it had been often looked at distractions.
 
According to letters Apple sent to the SEC, in its request seeking leaving out the shareholder measures from its proxy, Apple quoted the SEC’s new guidance along with other things.
 
The proposals include demands to Apple to regularly report on the ability of the company to reduce green house emissions and measures like setting up of a “human rights committee” for addressing worries on issues like censorship.
 
The reasons why those resolutions were not necessary were also detailed by Apple in the letters.
 
For example, by explaining that Apple had already taken multiple measures for improvement of the sustainability related to its operations like the company switching to greener materials for production and in aiding suppliers in the use more renewable energy, argued Apple while trying to leave out the proposal filed by Jantz Management of Boston related to the issue of the measure on greenhouse gas emissions.
 
(Source:www.reuters.com)






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