shareholder activism

Hahaha no he didn’t almost lose his chairmanship at all, come on. Anyway here’s a thing:

Dimon has also been a fierce critic of President Obama’s economic policies, including parts of the Dodd-Frank banking reform bill. Many union pension funds as well as public officials running large pension funds have vocally supported the president’s economic and regulatory policies, and the recent shareholder vote was designed to quash Dimon’s public criticism of these policies, people inside JP Morgan say.

That’s from Charlie Gasparino’s report today that the House Financial Services Subcommittee is going to hold a hearing “into whether proxy advisory firms are pushing political agendas rather than serving shareholder interests,” which I guess is no sillier a hearing than most other hearings. More things:

Executives at many companies have complained to Congress that such battles are fraught with politics, with advisory firms often pushing the political agendas of some of their biggest shareholder clients at union and public pension funds.

There’s much to unpack there1 but the basic questions are: Read more »

David Einhorn is suing Apple to make them give shareholders a separate vote over whether shareholders should have a vote over whether Apple can issue preferred stock. I guess that requires some unpacking. Let’s start at the end, with the preferred stock. Here is Einhorn’s plan:

For example, Apple could initially distribute to existing shareholders $50 billion of perpetual preferred stock, with a 4% annual cash dividend paid quarterly at preferential tax rates. … Assuming Apple retains its price to earnings multiple of 10x and the preferred stock yields 4%, our calculations show that every $50 billion of perpetual preferred stock that Apple distributes would unlock about $30 billion, or $32 per share in value. Greenlight believes that Apple has the capacity to ultimately distribute several hundred billion dollars of preferred, which would unlock hundreds of dollars of value per share. Further, Greenlight believes additional value may be realized when Apple’s price to earnings multiple expands, as the market appreciates a more shareholder friendly capital allocation policy.

What do you think? I vote yes. (I mean, I think it’s a good idea. The voting is more complicated.) My math is here and ties closely to Einhorn’s:


The math is super straightforward though it can and should boggle you conceptually if you think about it. Read more »

Hey, so, if you work at a bank, you may have heard about this, not sure, but your comp will be down. Just a bit. Unless you’re a junior mistmaker Chez Dimon. But otherwise, yeah. Down.

Another thing you may be less aware of is that some people are actually not so unhappy about that. A few of them even think that it’s possible that your pay should be down some more. And they think someone should really look into that:

Giant firms are expected to cut executive pay by some 30% from 2010 levels, consultants say. And since the financial crisis of 2008, firms have reduced cash bonuses, increased their use of company stock and added clauses that allow them to recoup—or “claw back”—pay in certain circumstances.

Even so, some investors want more changes. In December, the Nathan Cummings Foundation—a private charitable organization and institutional shareholder—filed proposals asking that directors at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. address potential reputational damage that big pay packages could bring to the banks, said Laura Campos, director of shareholder activities at the foundation. The proposals also request that they study how such awards could reduce banks’ ability to spend money on other areas, and report those findings to shareholders.

Shareholder resolution activists (not to be confused with, like, real activists) are mostly pretty silly creatures and this is a pretty good example of why. The Journal tries valiantly to make the efforts of Nathan Cummings and his eponymous foundation relevant to the hot-button issue of how much bankers get paid, but it’s pretty clear that the NCF is focused on a thing called “executive pay.” Executive pay is sort of an irrelevancy for investment banks, mostly, since it makes up a relatively small fraction of comp, and since lots of people at banks get paid executive amounts of money without being a named executive officer. And as long as the Nathan Cummingseses of the world are focusing on how much the Lloyds/Jamies/James-not-Jamies of the world are getting, they will probably stay away from your now-30%-paltrier comp.

Other fearless crusaders for shareholders have noticed this, however, and are more interested in going directly after your money, though they have yet to resort to the rather infra dig expedient of shareholder resolutions. Instead they do things like complain to Andrew Ross Sorkin, who earlier this week said: Read more »