David Einhorn scores legal victory vs Apple in cash scuffle

Feb 23 2013, 12:14 IST
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This could hand Einhorn more leverage as he pursues his pitch for Apple to issue what he has called the 'iPref'. This could hand Einhorn more leverage as he pursues his pitch for Apple to issue what he has called the 'iPref'.
SummaryThis could hand Einhorn more leverage as he pursues his pitch for Apple to issue what he has called the 'iPref'.

Simpson, Calpers' director of global governance, said in a statement.

BUNDLES

The ruling could be a warning for other companies when issuing proxy proposals, said James Cox, a professor at Duke University School of Law.

"It's going to make managers reluctant to bundle things together, because you're never going to know when you send them out if there's an Einhorn out there," he said.

The lawsuit was centered on a narrow issue of whether Apple violated U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rules by "bundling" the preferred shares item with two other unrelated matters into one proxy proposal.

Greenlight's lawyers contended the SEC rules were intended to protect shareholders from being forced to vote for a proxy proposal involving materially different issues that the investors might not entirely support.

Apple had argued Proposal No. 2, which only dealt with amendments to its charter, constitute a single matter and wasn't bundled. Sullivan called the company's arguments "unavailing."

"Given the language and purpose of the rules, it is plain to the Court that Proposal No. 2 impermissibly bundles 'separate matters' for shareholder consideration," Sullivan wrote.

Judge Sullivan also found that Greenlight would be irreparably harmed without the injunction, since it would be forced to vote against its own interests. Denying Greenlight's motion would prevent it and other investors from exercising their rights to a fair vote, Sullivan said.

Sullivan separately declined to block a vote from going forward on a separate proxy proposal, Proposal No. 4, which sought an advisory "say on pay" vote on Apple executives' compensation.

The proposal had been challenged by investor Brian Gralnick of Pennsylvania, who contends Apple did not disclose enough details about how it made its compensation decisions.

Sullivan rejected that argument, saying Apple's disclosures were "plainly sufficient under SEC rules."

Arnold Gershon, a lawyer for Gralnick at Barrack, Rodos & Bacine, said he was "very pleased" with Sullivan's decision to the extent it enjoined the Proposal No. 2 vote, though said he would have to decide what to do next with regard to the say-on-pay proposal.

Sullivan directed the parties to submit a joint letter by March 1 outlining the next contemplated steps in this case.

Apple shares closed up 1.1 percent at $450.81 on Friday.

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