Angelides Leads Appeal to Improve Investor Influence

October 2, 2003 ( - California State Treasurer Phil Angelides, accompanied by six state treasurers and New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, Thursday demanded new rules giving investors a greater role in the election of corporate directors.

Treasurers from North Carolina, Kentucky, Connecticut, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Oregon, joined Angelides and Hevesi in telling federal regulators that there needs to be a change in the election of corporate directors. Under current regulations, companies are not required to follow shareholder decisions, even when the resolutions attract significant investor support.  

The group of treasurers, representing nearly $650 billion in assets invested for state employees and teachers, wants to make it easier for shareholders to have more influence on the funds.

At a press briefing, the group argued that the steps begun by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) earlier this year are not enough. Two months ago the SEC, under Chairman William Donaldson, released a set of initial steps to increase shareholder influence on the nominating process.   The rules stressed the need for disclosure and transparency, but did not detail specifics on how to increase shareholder’s say (See  SEC Proposes Shareholder Notification Rules ).  

“We don’t want this to be a corporate-protection plan camouflaged as reform,” Hevesi said. “This is about owners of corporations having the right to participate in the governance of those corporations.”

The treasurers want to ensure that the maximum level of reform is reached.   They requested a meeting with Donaldson and sent him a letter Wednesday that seeks to clarify the SEC’s proposed set of rules.   A spokesman for the SEC, Herb Perone, said the proposed rules will be released for public comment October 8 and will not go into effect after the comment period is over and revisions have been made.

In September, Angelides’ joined the vocal criticism of then New York Stock Exchange Chairman Richard Grasso’s $139.5-million compensation package (See  Pension Execs Join Grasso Resignation Call ), eventually leading to Grasso’s resignation ( See  NYSE Chairman Grasso Resigns ).

-Alison Cooke

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