Historically, foreign investors in U.S. retailers have not considered as a potential impediment to raising capital or M&A activity the clearance of such transactions under the foreign investment regulations administered by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS or the Committee). Recent actions by CFIUS, however, suggest that foreign investment in any U.S. company, including retailers, that collects sensitive personal data of U.S. citizens is at potential risk of CFIUS review and remedial action, particularly where the transaction involves Chinese investors.
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A recent successful effort by a public company to exclude an environmental proposal from its proxy statement may signal a new approach for boards of directors to consider when managing shareholder proposals. Because retailers and consumer products companies routinely receive shareholder proposals on environmental and sustainability issues, similar arguments for exclusion may be persuasive to the staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the future.
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Activist investors continue to make liberal use of the SEC’s Rule 14a-8 to submit proposals for inclusion in company proxy statements. One of the most important shareholder trends to emerge from 2018 is the increasing involvement and support of large institutional investors in certain campaigns. Crisis management was one area in particular that institutional investors prioritized and sought disclosure on in 2018.
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