Pomerantz LLP

Walking Dead Directors

Pomerantz Monitor, May/June 2013 

Did you know that forty-one directors who last year failed to receive the votes of 50% of the shareholders, are still serving as directors? At Cablevision, for example, three directors are still sitting there even though they lost shareholder elections twice in the past three years, and were renominated in 2013. Two directors of Chesapeake Energy in Oklahoma, V. Burns Hargis, president of Oklahoma State University, and Richard K. Davidson, the former chief executive of Union Pacific, were opposed by more than 70 percent of the shareholders in 2012. Chesapeake requires directors receiving less than majority support to tender their resignations, which they did. The company said it would “review the resignations in due course.” The company refused to accept one of the resignations but, mercifully, they both left. Other cases where this has occurred, according to Institutional Shareholder Services, include Loral Space and Communications, Mentor Graphics, Boston Beer Company and Vornado Realty Trust. 

Our favorite story, though, involves Iris International, a medical diagnostics company based in Chatsworth, Calif. There, shareholders rejected all nine directors in May 2011. They all submitted their resignations, but then voted not to accept their own resignations. The nine stayed on the board until the company was acquired the following year. 

Many of these cases involve companies that do not require directors to receive a 50% majority vote to win election to the board.