The Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed a rule that will require companies with listed securities to recover incentive compensation based on erroneous financial statements. The proposed rule will also require new disclosures concerning listed companies’ clawback policies and their efforts to recover incentive compensation pursuant to the policies. The proposed rule and a fact sheet are available on the SEC’s website.
Continue Reading SEC Proposes Clawback Rule

On February 9, 2015 the SEC proposed rules, as required by Section 955 of Dodd-Frank, that would require disclosure regarding whether directors, officers and other employees are permitted to hedge or offset any decrease in the market value of equity securities granted by the company as compensation or held, directly or indirectly, by employees or directors.  The purpose of the rules, according to the SEC, is to elicit disclosure regarding whether employees or directors are permitted to engage in transactions that mitigate or avoid the incentive alignment associated with equity ownership.  Companies may wish to review their trading policies in light of the proposed rules.
Continue Reading SEC Hedging Disclosure Proposal Could Cause Companies To Review Trading Policies

On September 18, 2013, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) proposed a rule that would require most public companies to disclose, annually, the ratio of the median of the annual total compensation of all of the company’s employees to the annual total compensation of the company’s principal executive officer. This rule is mandated by Section 953(b) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”).  The comment period on the proposed rule ends 60 days after the proposing release is published in the Federal Register.

While the pay ratio disclosure is mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act, the statute sets no deadline for the SEC to act, and there are legitimate questions about the usefulness of the proposed disclosure to investors. In this respect, the proposed rule is, arguably, yet another example of using SEC disclosure rules to advance public policy goals not squarely rooted in the SEC’s historic mission of protecting investors.  Further, despite steps taken by the SEC to reduce compliance costs for companies, the proposed rule would, if enacted, certainly increase the costs and time required for companies to accurately prepare their executive compensation disclosures, including the likely need for many companies to retain outside advisors to assist in the statistical sampling and compilation process.
Continue Reading SEC Proposes Pay Ratio Disclosure Rule

The Department of Labor resolved key issues related to cleared swaps transactions in a recent advisory opinion.  The opinion concludes that margin posted by an employee benefit plan in connection with a cleared swap is not a “plan asset” for purposes of ERISA, and that a Clearing Member does not act as a fiduciary of the plan when the Clearing Member exercises discretionary account liquidation rights upon the plan’s default.  The opinion also provides guidance on prohibited transaction issues raised by the clearing process.
Continue Reading Labor Department Addresses Key Issues for Cleared Swaps