Shareholder activist groups won a brief victory this summer when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted to approve new proxy access rules that make it easier for investors to elect--or remove--members of a company's board of directors. But the triumph ended up being just another chapter in the decades-long debate over proxy access.
By late September, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable had filed suit in the D.C. Circuit, claiming the rules would give special interest groups undue power in board elections. Less than a week later, the SEC put a stay on the new rules, reasoning it didn't want to force companies into possibly costly compliance measures while the rules faced litigation.
Though the rules' purpose is to increase "fairness and accountability," according to SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro's Aug. 25 statement, there are several elements that have raised corporate ire.