By L. Reed Walton, Staff Writer, ISS Governance Weekly:
Looking back at the 2007 U.S. proxy season, two themes come to mind: accountability and engagement.
Shareholders gave strong support for proposals that seek greater board accountability, such as those seeking annual investor votes on executive pay and majority voting in director elections.
At the same time, investors withdrew more than half of their proposals on majority voting and stock option reforms after negotiations with companies. These withdrawals suggest that companies are becoming willing to engage with shareholders on certain issues.
Pay-related proposals received the most attention this season; more than 40 proposals that request an annual advisory vote on compensation--or “say on pay”--were voted on. Investors withdrew six resolutions; most of those withdrawals were at firms that agreed to join a new investor-issuer working group on pay votes.