A group of 11 major public pension officials are worried that the SEC may propose proxy access rules next week that could contain "nearly insurmountable barriers to the effective use of proxy access for major institutional shareowners such as ourselves."
The proposed rules are said to contain unreasonable "triggers" before shareholders are granted access to corporate proxy material to nominate directors, and they will also contain "unreasonable shareholder eligibility requirements," the officials said in a letter to William H. Donaldson, SEC chairman, citing "credible reports" for their information about the content of the proposal.
"Triggering requirements would force undue delay and could effectively render any new rules meaningless at all but a handful of companies," they wrote. "This would create the illusion of access. ... Any rule that does not give shareholders timely proxy rights at all companies ... will be harmful."
The signatories include Sean Harrigan, president of the $148.5 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento; and the state treasurers of California, Kentucky, North Carolina, Connecticut, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Oregon.
On Oct. 8, the commission will consider whether to release the proposed rule for public comment.