By Bill Rigby
SEATTLE Oct 28 Proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis
has recommended that Microsoft Corp shareholders vote
against the re-election of lead independent director John
Thompson, who is in charge of the company's efforts to find a
new chief executive.
In a research note circulated to its clients on Monday,
Glass Lewis expressed concerns about a possible conflict of
interests for Thompson in his role as CEO of Virtual
Instruments, a cloud-computing firm that sells licenses and
devices to Microsoft.
Glass Lewis is one of two major companies which make
recommendations to shareholders based on corporate governance
guidelines, but its views are not necessarily heeded by large
Microsoft representatives did not immediately reply to a
request for comment.
Thompson, a former International Business Machines Corp
executive, was appointed to Microsoft's board in
February 2012 and elected by shareholders at the annual meeting
later that year.
Microsoft's next shareholder meeting is scheduled for Nov.
19. Glass Lewis is recommending shareholders vote to re-elect
the company's other eight directors, including CEO Steve Ballmer
and Chairman and co-founder Bill Gates.
Ballmer announced in August that he will retire as CEO
within the next 12 months, triggering a search for a new leader
which is being headed by Thompson. It is not clear if Ballmer
will retain his seat on the board after he retires, although he
has said he intends to be an active shareholder in the company.
Some investors have suggested to the board that Gates step
down from his role as chairman, saying he stands in the way of
radical reform at Microsoft, which has lost ground to Apple Inc
and Google Inc in mobile computing. Gates has
not indicated any intention of stepping down.