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September 29, 2008 Forum Report:

Published Version of Gordon Paper to Be Discussed at Meeting



Forum Report


Published Version of Gordon Paper to Be Discussed at Meeting

A published version of the "Say on Pay" paper that Jeffrey Gordon had presented in a July 30, 2008 draft form for comment by Forum participants, and which he'll be presenting for discussion in the first part of the Forum's open meeting on October 14th, is now available:

This is Professor Gordon’s summary of the published paper:

Shareholder and public dissatisfaction with executive compensation has led to calls for an annual shareholder advisory vote on a firm's compensation practices and policies, so-called say on pay. Governance activists have recently begun to use the proxy machinery to target specific firms for such a shareholder vote. Some governance activists have also backed federal legislative proposals that would implement say on pay generally for US public companies. This paper assesses the case for such a mandatory federal rule in light of the UK experience with a similar regime adopted in 2002. The best argument for a mandatory rule is that it would destabilize pay practices that have produced excessive compensation and that would not yield to firm-by-firm pressure. This has not been the UK experience; pay continues to increase. The most serious concern is the likely evolution of a best compensation practices regime which would embed normatively-opinionated practices that would ill-suit many firms. There is some evidence of a UK evolution in that direction. This problem might be more pronounced in the US because US shareholders are even more likely than their UK counterparts to delegate judgments over compensation practices to a small number of proxy advisors who themselves will be economizing on analysis. The paper argues that the jury-rigged system now operating to push for compensation reform in US firms in light of the SEC's robust new compensation disclosure regime should be permitted to operate for a few more years before mandatory say-on-pay is seriously considered. In any event, if compensation levels are unacceptable as social matter rather than as a pay-for-performance matter, then general tax law changes would be more productive than tinkering with corporate governance.

We will of course continue to welcome comments on the paper, either for distribution in advance of the meeting or in person during the discussion.

Please remember that reservations will be required for attendance of the meeting.

           GL – September 29, 2008


Gary Lutin

Lutin & Company

575 Madison Avenue, 10th Floor

New York, New York 10022

Tel: 212-605-0335






This Forum program is open, free of charge, to anyone concerned with investor interests relating to shareholder advisory voting on executive compensation, referred to by activists as "Say on Pay." As stated in the posted Conditions of Participation, the Forum's purpose is to provide decision-makers with access to information and a free exchange of views on the issues presented in the program's Forum Summary. Each participant is expected to make independent use of information obtained through the Forum, subject to the privacy rights of other participants.  It is a Forum rule that participants will not be identified or quoted without their explicit permission.

The organization of this Forum program was supported by Sibson Consulting to address issues relevant to broad public interests in marketplace practices, rather than investor decisions relating to only a single company. The Forum may therefore invite program support of several companies that can provide both expertise and examples of performance leadership relating to the issues being addressed.

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