Berkshire Hathaway Inc changed its course on Friday and told a group of activists that it could bring the shareholders’ proposal away from the company’s annual general meeting on May 1, in line with new leadership from the U.S. security regulator.
Warren Buffett’s insurance and investment company has traditionally attracted thousands to its prestigious annual meeting in Omaha but, like many top US companies during the coronavirus epidemic, has urged investors to attend the conference from a distance rather than in person.
The online switch has created many groups of investors with shareholders’ decision that often highlight meetings, however. Others have been silenced by the use of technology or have been told that they could make personal decisions despite health risks.
This was the case in As You Sow’s Berkshire of Berkeley, California, which included a requirement for subsidiaries to report on diversification efforts and inclusion, and was told it would have to send a representative to Los Angeles where other directors and staff would gather for live webcast broadcasts.
Asked about the situation on Friday, Berkshire Chief Financial Officer Marc Hamburg told Reuters via email:
“We would like As You Sow to present their proposal for a shareholders ‘meeting in Los Angeles. However, we will give As You Sow the opportunity to provide a recording of the meeting as a way to present their shareholders’ proposal.”
During Sowing you have embraced this decision. The organization “is not willing to risk the lives of other people, so we are relieved that the company changed course,” President Danielle Fugere told Reuters.
While Berkshire Hathaway contacted the group, it cited new orders from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, as you said.
activists and investors that on April 5 asked the SEC to extend last year’s guidelines to allow for a tangible presentation of proposals, many companies that seemed to block this year, during the shareholders ’spring 2021 meeting session.
“From an epidemiological perspective, it is not yet time to look for sponsors,” the letter said.
In a statement posted on its website on Friday, the SEC said in view of COVID’s concerns, companies were encouraged to “give shareholders or their representatives the ability to present their proposals in other ways, such as by telephone” during the 2021 season.
The organization also said that sponsors who are unable to attend meetings will have good reason to refine their proposals over time.
Hamburg did not answer questions about how it would treat other stakeholder groups.