AT&T Shareholders to Vote on Pension, Restructuring Proposals

May 21, 2001 ( - While the focus of most AT&T investors at this week's annual meeting will be the vote that could set the stage for a split into multiple companies, votes on executive compensation and cash balance choices are also on the slate.

AT&T shareholders will get a chance to vote Wednesday on a proposal to amend the company’s charter, making it easier to get the required votes for the restructuring it announced last October.  If approved, the amendment would allow a simple majority of voting shareholders to approve a major structural change, rather than the two-thirds currently required.

In February three large pension funds filed a suit seeking to halt the restructuring vote, including Amalgamated Bank’s LongView pension fund, as well as the pension funds of the AFL-CIO and the Communications Workers of America.  In April the Communications Workers later agreed to withdraw its opposition to the restructuring vote ( CWA Drops AT&T Suit ).

Pension Proposals

Various shareholder proposals also will be considered at the meeting, including:

  • a recommendation that two directors be nominated for each available board seat
  • a proposal to allow AT&T employees to have a choice between a traditional defined benefit pension plan or a cash-balance plan, which AT&T converted to in 1997.

Pension-oriented shareholder votes on issues like protecting pension surpluses and providing workers with a choice on cash balance have not fared as well with shareholders this year (see IBM Pension Protest Falls Short – Again ).

Since last year’s shareholder meeting, AT&T’s stock has dropped about 39%.  It has also slashed its dividend for the first time in its century-plus history and posted a first quarter loss of some $366 million.