E-Proxy Timeline for Early Adopters

According to NIRI, 29% of investor relations officers surveyed said that they expected their companies to adopt a combination of notice and full set delivery of proxy materials in 2008.  22% plan on using the notice only model (also called the notice and access model in which a company sends a notice to shareholders at least 40 days before its annual meeting of shareholders letting them know that proxy materials are available on a public website other than EDGAR), while only 3% plan on sending a full set of proxy materials to all shareholders.  Almost half of those surveyed were still undecided as to how their company’s proxy materials will be delivered this year.

For those companies choosing to blaze the e-proxy path, the following timeline provided by NIRI should prove helpful:
 

  • Immediately – Determine method for proxy material delivery (notice only, full set delivery only or a combination of the two).
     

  • 60-100 days prior to annual meeting – Coordinate proxy delivery plans and important dates with partners, including your IR firm, outside legal counsel, annual report printers, proxy material website builders and proxy solicitors.
     

  • 46+ days prior to annual meeting – Confirm that your proxy website is running properly.  Remember that materials must be in both readable and printable format.  The website must ensure visitors’ anonymity and be capable of handling heavy traffic.
     

  • 45+ days prior to annual meeting – Deliver notice and access cards to all parties responsible for mailing materials to your shareholders.
     

  • 40+ days prior to annual meeting – Mail notice and access cards to shareholders (as well as printed proxy materials if you are adopting a combination delivery strategy).  Remember to file your notice and access card with the SEC.

 
Some additional NIRI pointers:
 

  • Monitor proxy responses regularly.
  • Respond to investor requests for printed materials within three business days.
  • Record requests from shareholders who have opted to receive paper materials on a permanent basis.

 

Laurie Berman, Senior Vice President, lberman@pondel.com
 
 

To Audit IC or Not to Audit IC

That is the question.
 
Small public companies with less than $75 million of public equity may get another one-year reprieve from having to comply with one of the provisions of the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act.  The Wall Street Journal (December 13, 2007, page C4) reports that SEC Chairman Christopher Cox is considering submitting a formal proposal in early 2008 that would exempt such companies from the rule requiring that they have their internal accounting controls audited and reported on by an outside auditing firm.  Meanwhile, the SEC will continue conducting a study on the estimated costs of complying with the external-auditor review provision to determine whether to phase in that requirement for small public companies in 2009, or propose a further delay or modification to the Act. 
 
The chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee has gone on record in favor of the delay, pending results of the study.  If the delay is approved, most small public companies will likely breath a sigh of relief, while shareholder advocacy groups will likely express their angst at what they perceive to be yet another move to undermine the important shareholder protections called for by Sarbanes-Oxley. 
 
Of course, voluntary compliance with the internal control review provisions remains an option for any small business and can help the board and management convey to investors their strong governance values.  A thorough assessment of the costs and benefits (both real and intangible) should precede any such decision.  PondelWilkinson is uniquely qualified, together with legal counsel, to assist your board and management in weighing the available options. 

 

PondelWilkinson, investor@pondel.com