Friday, March 02, 2007

Ripped (Off) From the Headlines

With Anna Nicole’s burial behind us, we can all get back to whatever we were supposed to be doing this week. Oh, is today Friday? Sorry, guess it's too late for that.

I cannot fill the void left by our tragic loss of the most engrossing tabloid story since bald Britney, but here are some headlines worth noting:

SEC Takes Action On Proxy Access

Having sheepishly shuffled its feet since last September, the SEC has finally taken a firm stance on the politically loaded question of whether to let certain shareholders stick certain proposals into certain companies’ proxy statements in certain circumstances, a concept known as "proxy access." (As previously noted here, many denizens of Proxyland find this idea severely disturbing, probably because if you think of shareholder activist strategies as high school seniors, proxy access would be pictured in the yearbook as Most Likely To Succeed.)

Pressured from all sides, Chairman Cox came out decisively in favor of procrastinating for another year. He has – you guessed it - commissioned a study. And John White, head of the Division of Corporate Finance, made it official with this rousing statement on the topic:

"I don't have much more to say at this point, but understand that our goal… remains to act in time for the 2008 proxy season. "

Aliens Invade 10-K Filing

It has fallen to ace blogger Michelle Leder at to prove once and for all that aliens exist and periodically take over the minds of earthlings. No other explanation can be found for the Compensation Discussion & Analysis inserted in Kinder Morgan Management, LLC’s 10-K, which Michelle quoted today:

Unlike many companies, we have no executive perquisites and, with respect to our United States-based executives, we have no supplemental executive retirement, non-qualified supplemental defined benefit/contribution, deferred compensation or split dollar life insurance programs. We have no executive company cars or executive car allowances nor do we offer or pay for financial planning services. Additionally, we do not own any corporate aircraft and we do not pay for executives to fly first class. We are currently below competitive levels for comparable companies in this area of our compensation package, however, we have no current plans to change our policy of not offering such executive benefits or perquisite programs.

I hope someone has alerted NORAD.

(p.s.: There is a remote chance aliens were not involved here. As one law professor has argued, businesses organized as publicly traded partnerships, as is Kinder Morgan, tend to be more accountable to their owners than traditional corporations.)

Lenovo Recalls Laptop Batteries, Citing Fire Risk

This has nothing whatsoever to do with corporate governance, but it has to do with me, which is more important. Upon learning that aliens really walked the earth, I dropped my ThinkPad laptop, an event that vastly increases the risk my Sony lithium-ion battery will soon explode. So if you don’t hear from me next week, you’ll know why.