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Breakingviews: Put GE up for sale? No joke

Tuesday, Apr 01, 2014 - 03:24

April 1 - The $260 bln conglomerate's shareholders will vote on one investor's nutty proposal to explore finding a buyer. Breakingviews editors discuss shareholder democracy gone wild.

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You're the one about you being up for sale. Well it would be a great it'll fool joke -- it were true that it's on the shareholder ballot. This year and rob -- you have taken a look at this. Epic proposal so we're not picking on a year and we don't necessarily believe Robert Fredericks. Proposal that the shareholders recommend General Electric hired investment bank to explore a sale the company. Because it would release significantly more -- we don't actually believe that that's the case. But it was an interesting opportunity look at shareholder proposals in general. In their six on the on the ballot for the April 23 shareholder meeting. For General Electric in Chicago including one that cessation of all stock option bonuses. Multiple candidate elections right back. It's just it was an opportunity say what it while Howard Hastings getting them on to the shareholder. Ballots and it turns out that there's quite a controversy that's -- A big issue all over the big issue at the 26 annual -- corporate law institute conference committee lawyers and bankers plus an early emanate jamboree Alex Pollock saw an investor activism of course was sort of the theme of the conference but we had SEC commissioner. Daniel Gallagher is the key -- keynote speech and this was one of those things and you talked about. Federalization of corporate revelation should be in the states talked about a lot a lot of other things but he really focus in on this too much he's for shareholders getting. They're for polls on the ballot and it's that this is just two weeks Rick as you all you have to virus has stock thousand dollars of stock poll and every year or 1% and you know you can put. Almost anything on there and it's very hard for corporation to keep at all minutes ago it. Actual letter for the. It was a summer I wish I stopped what do works well I mean what it's like Arnold I think what has to be careful about any time you curtail free agents -- afraid to speak so in fact in this case you can see the documents letters went back and forth game. Gibson Dunn and -- here very high priced law firm that he hired to try to keep this thing off the ballot and they were successful in keeping wanna office at least in this exchange they have the SEC but they this one. The SEC judge that it wasn't just and his material interest that's what it might be able share -- all shareholders might benefit from GU. Hiring an investor -- -- -- but the problem I have with all this is if you. When you start to curtail freedom of speech where is that and what what baby do you throw out with the bath water or having a and as we know that Supreme Court a few years ago the Citizens United case said look corporations have no right to free speech to make political contributions. So they are on the one hand and we don't know what Gallagher its view on that was put presumably -- people he's of the group that support yeah corporations for a while there aren't engaged -- let's face older gentleman his Internet on the other important and it -- -- would advocate taking away -- the channels and whether any innocent which would actually happen. Is this but it's like a symmetry to it which is if you're saying let's reduce the free speech is free speech freedoms of shareholders -- the same time expand it for corporations who are now people too. It's sort of I think you have to be really careful about -- -- that's the we'll leave it there we will not be keeping an eye out for GE's sale. But we will be back for more breaking news --

Breakingviews: Put GE up for sale? No joke

Tuesday, Apr 01, 2014 - 03:24

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