Last year, every board member received at least 86 percent support.
The results from the company's shareholders meeting on Wednesday suggest that stockholders are beginning to grow weary as
Most board directors are elected with more than 90 percent support from voting shareholders, so when you see directors elected in the 60 to 70 percent range, it raises eyebrows, said
"In the world of shareholder votes, those are bad votes," she said. "I think they are definitely on notice."
In a statement on Friday, Austin said the board appreciates the continued support of shareholders after a challenging year. "During this proxy season, we have had a productive dialogue with many of our investors, and we look forward to continued engagement in the weeks and months to come," she said.
Sale noted that two JPMorgan Chase board members resigned last year after receiving just 53 and 59 support of shareholders. As for
"If the company is doing well next year, this could all blow over," she said.
Last month, the proxy adviser Glass, Lewis & Co. had recommended "no" votes for Johnson and Mulcahy because of their record of oversight of other companies, including
The three board members who were not singled out by the proxy firms --
But there was a bright note for
Shareholders had expressed concerns about former CEO
This year, shareholders also expressed more interest in having an independent chairman. The board doesn't have a policy splitting the CEO and chairman roles and has said it prefers the flexibility to decide the best system based on the circumstances. Steinhafel was both CEO and board chairman.
A shareholders' nonbinding proposal on the matter, which was opposed by the board, received 46 percent of votes, up from 37 percent last year.
"It's a strong signal," Sale said. "They are in the midst of a CEO search now. So if they want to make the change, it's an easier change now than if they have a sitting CEO. ... You don't have to say to your current CEO: 'Scoot over.'"
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