October 27, 2017

ISS Issues Draft Policies: Unratified, Long-Term Poison Pills

Yesterday, ISS released draft policy changes for comment in 13 areas spanning the globe (based on these survey results from constituents) – the deadline for comment is November 9th. It’s expected that ISS will release its final policies in late November (although burn rate thresholds & pay-for-performance quantitative concern thresholds are typically announced through updated FAQs in mid-December; here’s info about the ISS policy process).

These are the three main areas up for consideration in the US:

1. Director Elections – Non-Employee Director Pay
2. Gender Pay Gap Proposals
3. Director Elections – Poison Pills

For the poison pills draft policy, here’s how Wachtell Lipton describes it: “ISS’s current policy provides that if a company maintains a long-term (>1 year) shareholder rights plan that has not been approved by shareholders, ISS will recommend voting against all nominees every year if the company’s board is classified. However, if the board is annually elected, ISS will recommend voting against the entire board once every three years.

ISS proposes changing its policy to recommend voting against all directors of such companies at every annual meeting. In addition, commitments to put a long-term rights plan to a vote the following year would no longer be considered a mitigating factor by ISS (but may still be relevant to individual shareholder voting decisions). ISS would also eliminate the exemption for 10-year rights plans adopted prior to November 2009, which would affect approximately 90 companies. ISS notes that short-term rights plans would continue to be assessed on a case-by-case basis, but states that the updated policy would focus more on the rationale for the rights plan’s adoption than on the company’s governance and track record.”

Broc Romanek