By Michael Greene
Aug. 20 — Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. recently announced that it is launching a new data verification portal, which should shed light on the proxy advisory firm's evaluation of companies' compensation plans.
ISS's new portal will cover “critical information on equity-based compensation plans that U.S. companies submit for approval by their shareholders,” according to an Aug. 14 press release. “Under the new process, all U.S. companies with an equity plan on the ballot that file their proxy statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission after September 8, 2014, can utilize the new platform to verify key datapoints underlying ISS' evaluation of the plan.”
According to ISS's website, “[b]y including companies in this process, ISS' proxy analyses will better reflect the latest and most accurate data to aid institutional investors' voting on equity plans.”
Corporate issuers have been critical about the outsized influence that proxy firms have on investors, particularly ISS and Glass Lewis & Co. LLC. Specifically, the corporate community has called on the SEC to require proxy advisers to provide more transparency about their internal controls and the methodologies upon which they base their recommendations.
Recently, SEC Commissioner Daniel Gallagher repeated his call for reform to the proxy advisory industry. Gallagher and others have asked for the SEC to withdraw two no-action letters they say might have entrenched the industry's outsized influence.
In a statement e-mailed to Bloomberg BNA, Subodh Mishra, a spokesman for ISS, said that “[o]ur equity plan data verification portal has been under development since late last year and represents another step in ISS' long-standing efforts to provide greater visibility into datapoints underpinning its proxy research and recommendations.”
Mishra added that the launch “following the 2014 proxy season is timely, given the sharper focus on equity plans at annual meetings this year, including those for Coca-Cola and Cheniere Energy.”
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ISS's press release is available at http://www.issgovernance.com/institutional-shareholder-services-launches-new-data-verification-portal/.
More information on the portal and a registration link is available at http://www.issgovernance.com/equity-plan-data-verification.
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