About one-quarter of all Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) shareholder votes were cast in favor of a proposal that asks the company to report on business risks from Verizon’s controversial FCC lawsuit and other actions to oppose open Internet and network neutrality principles.
Shareholder Proposal on Network Neutrality Gains Momentum in Vote at Verizon
Shareholder Proposal on Network Neutrality
Gains Momentum in Vote at Verizon
Results Surpass Those at AT&T;
Third vote upcoming at Sprint on May 15
A shareholder proposal calling upon Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, NASDAQ – VZ) to publicly commit to network neutrality principles on its wireless networks gained significant momentum at the company’s annual meeting as shareholders supported the proposal by an even larger margin than their counterparts at AT&T did in a similar recent vote.
The proposal at Verizon, which was offered and considered for the first time this year, attracted 7.9% of the votes cast by the company’s shareholders at the annual meeting in Huntsville, Alabama on May 3. A similar measure at AT&T Inc.’s annual meeting on April 27 attracted 5.9% of the shares voted. The vote results are contained in official filings by the companies with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
By winning more than 3 percent of the vote of shareholders at both AT&T and Verizon, the proposals reached an important qualifying threshold set by the SEC for inclusion in next year’s proxy voting at both companies.
Based on Verizon’s recent share price, the results mean that investors holding stock worth more than $5.2 billion voted in favor of the resolution.
A similar proposals regarding wireless network neutrality is scheduled for a vote at Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE – S) on Tuesday, May 15.
Network neutrality is a core principle that has guided the Internet since its inception. This principle enables an open Internet by making sure that companies that provide Internet access treat all content equally—regardless of source, destination or ownership. This prevents a handful of large companies from paying wireless providers premium rates in exchange for faster speeds on their sites than others receive. Without it, consumers risk experiencing a dramatically different Internet, where large corporate sites able to pay premium costs load and operate at fast speeds while smaller newer sites struggle to function and compete with slower speeds. Numerous studies also demonstrate that network neutrality is important to the prosperity of Internet Service Providers and economic growth.
The shareholder proposals at AT&T, Verizon and Sprint were allowed on the proxy ballots following an SEC staff ruling earlier this year which denied “no-action” requests by the companies. The companies had sought to block shareholders from voting on the proposals by arguing, among other things, that network neutrality was not a “significant public policy issue.” The SEC staff rejected that argument in view of what it called “the sustained public debate over the last several years concerning net neutrality and the Internet and the increasing recognition that the issue raises significant policy considerations.”
The Open MIC Blog
Verizon Shareholder Proposal on Open Internet Issues Receives Support from Leading Proxy Advisor ISS
A shareholder proposal asking Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) to issue a report about the risks confronting the company because of its positions on net neutrality and open Internet issues has received support from ISS Proxy Advisory Services, the leading advisor to institutional investors.
The shareholder proposal can be voted on by Verizon shareholders either by proxy over the next two weeks, or in person at the company's annual meeting on May 2.
In response to a shareholder proposal, Apple Inc. has amended its Board’s Audit and Finance Committee charter to include responsibility for privacy and data security risks that confront the company.
The change was praised by advocates as an important step in improving accountability for privacy and data security at the highest levels of corporate governance. “Apple is to be congratulated for recognizing the critical risks that privacy and data security can pose to a company’s financial performance,” said Michael Connor, Executive Director of Open MIC a non-profit organization that assisted investors in drafting the proposal at Apple.