Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Glass Lewis

One of the frequent complaints of good-governance activists is that many corporations today, especially those headquartered in the United States, combine the roles of quarterback and coach -- or, to drop the metaphor, they combine the roles of chief executive and chairman of the board.

Activist shareholders of Exxon Mobil -- where Rex W. Tillerson bears both titles -- have brought this issue to a head -- it will be voted on as "Proxy Item 5" at the company's annual meeting May 28.

They did likewise last year, and garnered 40% of the vote. The task this year will be to build on that figure. They have an ally in Glass Lewis, an independent proxy advisory firm, which is recommending that shareholders support the call for an independent chairman.

In a statement yesterday, Glass Lewis said that such a separation is "almost always a positive move."

I wonder whether there is any arb fund out there that makes use of such good-governance principles by pairing companies. One might find two companies that are in the same industry and otherwise similar operationally, BUT FOR one of these "takle your vitamins" type rules the folks at Glass Lewis like to tell us about.

Oil company A has two people in these two roles, oil company B combines them.

So (on my imagined scenario) an arb fund would be long on A and short on B.

Is anybody doing that? And how well?

If anyone reading this knows the answer to that question: get in touch. Thanks.

No comments: