Wednesday, October 21, 2009

SEC Seeks Comment on e-Proxy, Strat Plan

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission recently released two items for public comment.

SEC Proposes Amendments To e-Proxy
On Oct. 14, 2009 the SEC released Proposed Amendments to Rules Requiring Internet Availability of Proxy Materials (aka 'e-proxy').

The proposal cites findings from a survey conducted by Broadridge Financial Solutions, which indicated a significant drop in retail investor participation in, and understanding of, online-only proxies. (Issuers were required to send shareholders a notice regarding availability of online proxies, but, according to the survey, the boilerplate nature of notices developed under the original rules appears to have confused some investors.

To address this concern, the SEC proposes allowing more flexibility in how issuers present the information to shareholders in the notice, and strongly encourages companies - particularly in light of cost savings obtained by using online proxy voting vs. all paper proxy voting - to launch educational efforts to inform their shareholders how to participate in online proxy voting. These educational efforts, however, may not be used to persuade shareholders to, e.g. vote for the company's proposals in the proxies.

Additionally, the SEC's office of Investor Education will also launch some programs to educate investors on how to participate in online proxy voting. The comment deadline on the proposal is November 20.

Read more about the proposed amendments to e-Proxy in Broc Romanek's post in blog: Surprise: The SEC Proposes Changes to E-Proxy, and Dominic Jones post in IRWebReport, SEC Should Focus on Access in 'Notice and Access.'

SEC Draft Strategic Plan
On October 8th, the SEC announced the release of its Draft Strategic Plan for 2010-2015. See also SEC Release No. 34-60799. The comment deadline is November 16. (See also our related Oct. 5 post, describing some highlights from the draft strategic plan which SEC staff provided to the SEC's Investor Advisory Committee.)

Learn more about the latest developments at the SEC, FASB and IASB by attending FEI's 28th Annual Current Financial Reporting Issues Conference (CFRI) Nov. 16-17 at the New York Marriott Marquis, Times Square, NYC.

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