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NYSE Proposes to Clarify Proxy Solicitation Mechanics

By | February 14, 2015

The NYSE proposes to amend Section 402.05 of the Listed Company Manual to clarify that listed companies soliciting proxy material through brokers or other entities must comply with SEC Rule 14a-13.

Rule 14a-13 mandates that listed companies must inquire of the record holder whether other persons are beneficial owners of the subject shares and, if so, how many copies of the relevant proxy or other soliciting materials must be provided to supply such materials to the beneficial owners. SEC Rule 14a-13 further sets forth the timeline on which inquiry of the record holder must be made.

The Listed Company Manual, in addition to requiring compliance with Rule 14a-13, also separately states that a listed company’s inquiry of brokers must be made not less than 10 days in advance of a record date. The NYSE imposed this absolute 10 day minimum in recognition of the fact that the provisions of SEC Rule 14a-13 allow, in certain limited circumstances, for a listed company to inquire of brokers less than 20 days in advance of a record date for a special meeting (but not for an annual shareholders’ meeting).

The NYSE believes that the 10-day period presently described in Section 402.05 is in conflict with the requirements of Rule 14a-13. For example, although the NYSE makes specific reference to the SEC’s 20-day advance inquiry rule (i.e., SEC Rule 14a-13), the NYSE believes Section 402.05 could be read as requiring only a 10-day advance inquiry.

The NYSE proposes to revise Section 402.05 of the Listed Company Manual to clarify that listed companies soliciting proxy material through brokers or other entities must comply with the provisions of SEC Rule 14a-13 and that the NYSE does not impose any additional requirements with respect to the relevant inquiry of brokers. Further, the NYSE proposes to delete the requirement in Section 402.05 of the Listed Company Manual that listed companies immediately advise the NYSE if it becomes impossible for them to make an inquiry of brokers at least ten days before a record date. Given that listed companies are required to comply with SEC Rule 14a-13 and the NYSE has no authority to waive compliance with such rule, the NYSE believes that such notice requirement is unnecessary.

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