On October 23, 2018, the SEC Division of Corporation Finance issued Staff Legal Bulletin No. 14J (“SLB 14J”), which reiterated and expounded upon prior guidance regarding when companies may exclude shareholder proposals under the economic relevance exception of Rule 14a-8(i)(5), and the ordinary business exception of Rule 14a-8(i)(7). Continue Reading SEC Provides Additional Guidance on Excluding Shareholder Proposals
On August 17, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) voted to adopt amendments to duplicative, overlapping, outdated or superseded disclosure rules for public companies. The new rules take effect on November 5, 2018 and are effective for all SEC filings made on or after that date. Continue Reading New SEC Disclosure Standards Effective November 5
As detailed in our recent client alert, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) recently proposed or adopted several rules of interest to retailers, particularly those that are publicly traded. They concern (1) final rules modernizing the definition of “smaller reporting company” (“SRC”), (2) final rules implementing the use of Inline eXtensible Business Reporting Language (“XBRL”) and (3) proposed rules amending the SEC’s whistleblower program. Continue Reading SEC Rulemaking Activity of Interest to Retailers
As the 2018 proxy season is winding down, some trends have begun to emerge regarding CEO pay ratio disclosure, shareholder proposals and virtual shareholder meetings. Continue Reading 2018 Proxy Season Update
In recent years, publicly traded retailers have experienced a significant uptick in interest from investors focused on Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) issues. On April 23, 2018, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) released Field Assistance Bulletin 2018-01 (the “FAB”). The FAB applies to certain retirement plan fiduciaries who make investment and proxy voting decisions that derive from ESG concerns, and may impact investor behavior at public retailers.
At the end of February, the SEC staff issued a No-Action Letter to Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc., permitting the company to exclude a shareholder proposal under Rule 14a-8(i)(5), often referred to as the economic relevance exception. This is the first no-action relief granted under the rule since the SEC issued Staff Legal Bulletin No. 14I (“SLB 14I”) on November 1, 2017, and it could have implications for other retailers seeking to exclude shareholder proposals under the rule in the future. Continue Reading SEC Staff Permits Exclusion of Shareholder Proposal Under Economic Relevance Exception
On January 18, 2018, Hunton & Williams LLP’s retail industry lawyers, composed of more than 100 lawyers across practices, released their annual Retail Year in Review publication. The Retail Year in Review includes many topics of interest to retailers including blockchain, antitrust enforcement in the Trump Administration, ransomware’s impact on the retail industry, SEC and M&A activity in 2017, cyber insurance, vulnerability to class actions, and the reduced tax rate.
The Initial Coin Offering (“ICO”) market exploded in 2017 with almost $4 billion of investments. Securities regulators in the United States have responded first with a series of public warnings and, more recently, by bringing enforcement actions against promoters of ICOs and other digital currency investments. We survey some of the recent regulatory developments in this rapidly evolving field. Continue Reading Securities Regulators Expand Oversight of ICO Market and Digital Currency
Recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) allowed Apple Inc. to exclude a shareholder proposal from its proxy statement that requested that Apple “produce a report assessing the climate benefits and feasibility of adopting store-wide requirements for having all retail locations implement a policy on keeping entrance doors closed when climate control (especially air-conditioning during warm months) is in use.” Continue Reading Environmental Activist Submits Shareholder Proposal on Climate Control
On December 11, 2017, the SEC issued a cease-and-desist order against Munchee Inc. after finding that the company’s initial coin offering (“ICO”) constituted unregistered offers and sales of securities. Munchee sought to raise $15 million for its blockchain-based food review and social platform by selling digital tokens to users that could be used to buy and sell goods and services through an iPhone app. Munchee and others promoting the ICO told investors that the tokens could be expected to increase in value as the company implemented improvements to the app and said that the company would work to support a secondary market for the tokens. Continue Reading Company Ends Initial Coin Offering after SEC Finds Securities Violations