FedEx Corp. has won approval from the SEC to remove a shareholder proposal from its annual proxy asking the company to “respond to reputational damage from its association” with the Washington Redskins NFL franchise.
FedEx has the naming rights to the National Football League team’s stadium, FedExField, in Landover, Md., through 2026.
The Memphis, Tenn., company had filed a no-action request with the Securities and Exchange Commission in April. A shareholder proposal was filed earlier that month following publicity regarding the suitability of the team’s name.
Mark F. Vilardo, special counsel for the SEC, made the approval in a letter to the company’s counsel on July 11, noting the proposal relates to ordinary business operations — the “manner in which FedEx advertises its products and services” Mr. Vilardo wrote in the letter made available on the SEC website — which gives FedEx a basis for excluding the proposal from its annual proxy.
The proposal was filed by the Oneida Trust of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, with Mercy Investment Services and Calvert Investments serving as co-filers, and support and assistance from Boston Common Asset Management, Trillium Asset Management and Walden Asset Management.
“We firmly believe investors are entitled to debate this issue in the proxy and the FedEx board and management should not shy away from addressing the reputational risks linked to its sponsorship of the Washington NFL team franchise. Perceptions that FedEx is supporting disparaging and racist language must be addressed,” said Jonas D. Kron, Trillium senior vice president, director of shareholder advocacy, in a Trillium news release.
FedEx spokeswoman Melissa Charbonneau said in an e-mail, “We have no comment on the SEC decision, but continue to take pride in our sponsorship of FedExField and the positive impact it has on the community. FedExField is home to the Washington Redskins as well as a broad range of civic and community activities and other major sports and entertainment events.”
Mr. Kron did not return a phone call by press time.