Sunday, February 14, 2010

Infineon Meeting: Incumbent victory

Infineon held its shareholders meeting on Thursday, and the incumbents won.

Infineon Technologies AG, a Germany-based chipmaker, has approximately 25,650 employees worldwide, with major operations in the US, Japan, and Singapore. It is listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange with the sumbol IFX, and in the US over-the-counter market as IFNNY.

As noted in this space on February 1, dissidents led by Hermes had nominated Willi Berchtold, the chief financial officer of ZF Friedrichshafen AG, as the next chairman of the board in place of the incumbent director who hads been set to take the chair, Klaus Wucherer. Wucherer won, with 72.5% of the vote.

There are efforts underway to read broad significance into this. A rejection of the free-wheeling "Anglo-American" style of capitalism of which proxy contests are supposedly a part. Here's what Laura Stevens of the Wall Street Journal said on the subject.

Personally, I don't see huge significance. Shareholders will continue to rebel from time to time in contexts in which there are overly cozy interlocking directorships. Some of those rebellions will fall short. It is ever thus. In general, the direction of progress is toward greater and more immediate control on the part of the shgareholders, toward the reconstruction of corporate boards as intermediaries rather than as "the decider." That general direction of progress remains.

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