Goldman Sachs will not be running for office anytime soon, although you probably already assumed that.
One of the highlights of covering Wall Street – or any sector, really – is shareholder proposal season, when investors, some of whom own just a handful of shares, ask firms to put their ideas up for a proxy vote at the annual investor meeting.
Many are serious proposals, put together by large shareholder groups or activist investors demanding a change in the structure of the company. Others are used to make a point, create debate or just to have some fun. Here’s one that falls somewhere between the three.
Harrington Investments President John Harrington submitted a proposal last year asking Goldman Sachs to end its political contributions, and instead run for office, according to Bloomberg. The idea is based on a Supreme Court statute that suggests corporations have similar political rights to individuals. It appears the proposal was an ironic statement meant to shine light on the influence big banks already have in Washington.
Goldman, or any firm that receives a shareholder request, can’t just toss the letter in the trash and say no. It had to ask the Securities and Exchange Commission to discard the call-to-vote, which it just did.
As odd as the proposal sounds, it fails to beat out last year’s call-to-vote submitted by Nomura shareholders, who asked the bank to install Japanese-style toilets to strengthen “legs and loins” of employees, literally encouraging them to “hunker down.”
If you want to check out additional proposals, get a job with the SEC. The commission employs around 20 staffers whose only job is to review the validity of shareholder ideas.
One that was accepted by the SEC this year is a proposal to strip Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein of his chairman role. That vote will take place in May.
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