The Shareholder Forum

supporting investor interests in long term enterprise value

 

Purpose & History of Services

The Shareholder Forum

The Shareholder Forum supports investor interests in corporate enterprise value with services that require independence – and that may benefit from the Forum’s network resources and recognition for advocacy of long term investor interests – to assure a definition of relevant issues and fair access to information that can be relied upon by both corporate and investor decision-makers.

The policies that provide a foundation for the Forum’s marketplace functions have been carefully developed and tested to allow any investor to participate in its communications, either anonymously or visibly, without acting in concert. Established originally to accommodate professional fund managers, this independent moderator function has proved to be consistently effective in managing orderly processes of issue definition for rational analysis by fiduciaries who are responsible for informed decisions.

Initiated in 1999 by the New York Society of Security Analysts with lead investor and former corporate investment banker Gary Lutin as guest chairman to address the professional interests of its members, and independently supported by Mr. Lutin since 2001, Forum programs have achieved wide recognition for their effective definition of important issues and orderly exchange of the information and views needed to resolve them. The Forum's ability to convene all key decision-making constituencies and influence leaders has been applied to subjects ranging from corporate control contests to the establishment of consensus marketplace standards for fair disclosure, and has been relied upon by virtually every major U.S. fund manager and the many other investors who have participated in programs that addressed their interests.

Currently important applications of the Forum’s independent position include the support of corporate managers who wish to provide the leadership expected of them by responding to activist challenges with orderly reviews of issues relevant to long term investor interests.

Requests for Shareholder Forum consideration of support may be initiated confidentially by any investor or by the subject company, or by the professional advisors to either.

 

For comments on the issues addressed below, see

For subsequent legal rulings in this and another case on the challenges of providing records of stock ownership, see

 

 

Forum Report

 

Example of the "Proxy Plumbing" Problem

 

For those of you who are concerned with the "proxy plumbing" issues currently being considered by the SEC, a recent litigation case may provide you with a useful demonstration of the need for improvements.

Apache Corporation has initiated a court action against John Chevedden, the well-known governance activist, for a judgment allowing the company to block his submission of a shareholder proposal based on his inability to provide legally satisfactory proof that he owns the required shares. According to the complaint, Mr. Chevedden provided records that he did in fact own shares, but the financial service firms that confirmed his position did not appear in the records of registered ownership. Leaving aside the comical aspects of this case, the court filing shows clearly that our current system of defining ownership is dysfunctional:

Whether you think this effort to block a shareholder proposal is proper or not, I assume you will agree that there is something wrong with rules that allow this argument to be made. What seems like a simple matter of defining "ownership" of stock has become a real challenge, especially in the context of recently evolved securities lending and derivatives practices, and needs to be resolved before anyone can sensibly consider what kind of "plumbing" hardware to order.

It should be noted that there are no plans for the Forum to develop a program addressing "proxy plumbing." It is a subject that concerns many Forum participants, though, and your comments will be welcomed.

 

           GL – January 15, 2010

 

Gary Lutin

Lutin & Company

575 Madison Avenue, 10th Floor

New York, New York 10022

Tel: 212-605-0335

Email: gl@shareholderforum.com

 

 

 

 

 

Inquiries, requests to be included in email distribution lists, and suggestions of new Forum subjects may be addressed to inquiry@shareholderforum.com.

Publicly open programs of the Shareholder Forum are conducted for free participation of all shareholders of a subject company and any fiduciaries or professionals concerned with their decisions, according to the Forum’s stated "Conditions of Participation." In all cases, each participant is expected to make independent use of information obtained through the Forum, and participation is considered private unless the party specifically authorizes identification.

The information provided to Forum participants is intended for their private reference, and permission has not been granted for the republishing of any copyrighted material. The material presented on this web site is the responsibility of Gary Lutin, as chairman of the Shareholder Forum.

Shareholder Forum™ is a trademark owned by The Shareholder Forum, Inc., for the programs conducted since 1999 to support investor access to decision-making information. It should be noted that we have no responsibility for the services that Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc., introduced for review in the Forum's 2010 "E-Meetings" program and has since been offering with the “Shareholder Forum” name, and we have asked Broadridge to use a different name that does not suggest our support or endorsement.