On the eve of the official deadline for comments on the two conflicting shareholder access rules, the SEC is not closer to reaching consensus that it was when the controversy started several months ago, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Cox voted with the commission's two Democrats for a proposal that would allow shareholders with a 5% stake in a company to propose changes to bylaws governing the election process. He said he favored this rule. Still, he voted with the two Republican commissioners for a rule that would do the opposite and allow companies to reject such proposed bylaw changes.
By putting both rules out for comment, Mr. Cox sought to foster more debate and buy time for the commission to work out a compromise before his self-imposed year-end deadline. But the commissioners are no closer -- perhaps are further apart -- and public comments, which are due tomorrow, aren't expected to point the way toward middle ground.
Apparently, the retirement of one of the Democratic appointees to the commission has shifted the balance of power on the issue. The commission is scheduled to vote on the issue in November but a replacement for the retired Democratic appointee won't be made until after that. Some are urging the SEC to scrap both rules and just start over.
Update: Larry Ribstein points out that there's no reason this issue needs to be a political football at the federal level. Why not let state corporate law handle this?
Can SEC's Cox Win Playing the Middle? [Wall Street Journal]