TEXT OF STORY
Doug Krizner: The Securities and Exchange Commission takes up the thorny issue of shareholder rights today. Commissioners are expected to put restrictions in place, Even though a recent federal court ruling opened the door for shareholder activism.
The SEC is also expected to support more online communications between corporations and their owners. Jill Barshay has more on that.
Jill Barshay: Relations between companies and their shareholders are contentious.
Tom Lehner represents 160 large U.S. companies at the Business Roundtable. He says every one of them wastes time and money battling shareholder proposals on their annual proxy ballots.
Tom Lehner: Everything from environmental resolutions to social responsibility resolutions that often times don’t have any direct relation to the company’s core business.
So the SEC is trying to play marital counselor. It’s hoping the Internet can provide neutral ground for shareholders and companies to hash out their problems.
Lehner: This is getting at the heart of this age-old issue, whether you’re talking about a marriage or you know, any group of people, that improved communications always leads to better relationships.
Lehner says companies won’t even go near message boards until they get liability protection from the SEC. He says that’s what the SEC is expected to give corporations today.
In New York, I’m Jill Barshay for Marketplace.
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