Jan 23 Goldman Sachs Group Inc wants to
block a shareholder vote on a proposal to require an independent
chairman, trying to halt the latest effort to split the CEO and
chairman positions held by Lloyd Blankfein.
Last year, the New York investment bank headed off a similar
proposal from another group by appointing a lead independent
director on the board.
Beverly O'Toole, Goldman Sachs associate general counsel,
sent a letter to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on
Jan. 16 seeking permission to exclude the shareholder proposal
from the annual proxy, calling it "inherently vague and
CtW Investment Group, which works with union pension funds
with more than $200 billion in assets, submitted the resolution
in December. The group's proposal called for a board policy
requiring the chairman to be a director who has not previously
been the CEO and who is independent of management.
Shareholders will vote on proposals included in the proxy
filing at the company's annual stockholder meeting.
CtW could not immediately be reached for comment. The SEC
and Goldman Sachs declined to comment.
Last March, the American Federation of State, County and
Municipal Employees dropped its proposal to split the posts
after Goldman agreed to alter its board structure to create a
lead independent director, who among other things would be in
charge of evaluating the CEO's performance.
In recent years, a number of banks have faced shareholder
proposals to split the chairman and CEO positions, in hopes of
creating more checks and balances on top management.
The resolutions have produced mixed results. In 2009, former
Bank of America Corp CEO Ken Lewis lost his chairmanship
after shareholders approved such a proposal. Wells Fargo & Co
shareholders last year voted down such a resolution.