* Gives new details on controversial
* Vendor Broadridge says no
glitch in its technology
* Broadridge major seller of
BOSTON, Nov 2 (Reuters) -
Symantec Corp (SYMC.O)
said technical problems led the security software company to overlook
questions from shareholders at its controversial online-only annual meeting
complained at the time their questions were not accepted or were softened by
Symantec in what they said looked like an effort to shield executives.
Symantec has said it did not
mean to quiet its critics and promised next year it will add back a "live"
portion of the event.
In an Oct 27 letter, the
company's Chairman John Thompson went further and blamed some overlooked
questions on technical issues. Asked for more details, a Symantec
spokeswoman referred questions to Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc (BR.N),
the vendor providing the service that hosted the online event and that
lately has made a major push in the area.
In response to questions, a
Broadridge spokesman sent a statement that read, "There was no glitch in
Broadridge's technology." The statement said further that "(I)f there had
been a problem with our technology for Symantec's meeting, we'd have
addressed it then."
Neither company would make
executives available to be interviewed. Symantec is the largest company to
date to scrap its live annual shareholder meeting. Instead, it had
shareholders log in to a website to listen to a presentation by executives
and to send in questions remotely.
The focus on the September 20
meeting comes as companies adopt more online communications with their
shareholders, a shift some governance experts worry could shut off
In his letter, Symantec's
Thompson said that during the meeting the company was aware of just two
questions asked by shareholders and only learned later that more had been
"To our surprise, after the
meeting ended, we discovered that there was a time lag that occurred that
caused a delay in Symantec seeing additional questions submitted due to
vendor network and technology reasons," Thompson wrote in his letter to the
Shareholder Forum, a investor communications organization that followed the
Broadridge has hosted a number
of online-only gatherings since last year, including its own annual meeting.
The online format can save companies thousands of dollars in staging and
travel costs for events that often draw just a handful of shareholders.
Still some governance experts
and shareholder activists say the meetings serve a valuable role as the rare
moment when executives must accept questions from shareholders. They have
pressed for companies to hold "hybrid" events, as Symantec has said it plans
In the letter Thompson
mentioned the company may also provide a phone-in option to allow
shareholders to ask questions verbally.
The technical problems at the
Symantec meeting were not the first glitch involving Broadridge, which among
other things counts votes in corporate elections. In 2008, a Broadridge
counting error meant that a vote tally had to be revised in a contest at
Yahoo Inc (YHOO.O).
Executives have said the snag
was unique to Yahoo's complex election, and insignificant in the context of
its overall operations. These including printing and mailing out more than 6
million paper documents a day like proxy voting cards and corporate annual
(Reporting by Ross Kerber;