SEC Seeks to Propose Rules on Proxy Advisory Firms

SEC Seeks to Propose Rules on Proxy Advisory Firms bertos/iStock

The Securities and Exchange Commission is close to proposing new rules that would govern proxy advisory firms, according to a story published by Reuters Wednesday.

SEC Chair Mary Jo White told an audience at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Wednesday that after sitting in on a previous SEC roundtable on the role of proxy advisory firms, she was particularly interested “in hearing the discussions about improving disclosure of possible conflicts and about how much investment advisers rely upon proxy advisory firms and what this means for their fiduciary obligations.”

“The staff now will be making recommendations to me in the very near term about what additional action might be taken on these issues,” White told the audience, according to Reuters.

Groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, and some members of Congress, have been pushing for some time on new rules governing proxy advisory firms, which advise institutional shareholders on how to vote their proxies, and which members of the business community say have too much influence over companies. Additionally, critics say that proxy advisory firms are conflicted in their business because they also advise individual companies on their governance structure and practices.

The largest and most influential of proxy advisory firms, Institutional Shareholder Services, owned by index provided MSCI, is set to sell itself to Vestar Capital Partners for $364 million, ISS announced Tuesday. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of this year.

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