BMY-Written Consent by Shareholders
Shareholders of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMY) request that our board of directors take such steps as may be necessary to permit written consent by shareholders entitled to cast the minimum number of votes that would be necessary to authorize the action at a meeting at which all shareholders entitled to vote thereon are present and voting. This includes shareholder ability to initiate any appropriate topic for written consent.
This proposal topic won 95%-support at a Dover Corporation shareholder meeting and 88%-support at an AT&T shareholder meeting. And that was before the shareholder ability to call a special in-person shareholder meeting was essentially eliminated by the 2020 pandemic. This proposal topic won 43%-support at our 2020 BMY annual meeting. The 2020 proposal did not point out that our management ignored the fact that written consent can be structured so that all shareholders get notice of a proposed action. Plus, in 2020 BMY management also ignored the fact that winning written consent would require a 71%-approval of shares voted at a typical BMY annual meeting, since many shareholders do not vote. With the near universal use of online annual shareholder meetings, which can last only 10-minutes, the shareholder right to call a special meeting has been severely reduced in value. Shareholders can be restricted in making their views known at online shareholder meetings because constructive questions and comments can be easily screened out by the incumbent management and board. For example, the 2020 Goodyear shareholder meeting was spoiled for shareholders by a trigger-happy management mute button. (Goodyear's virtual meeting creates issues with shareholder,https://www.crainscleveland.com/manufacturing/goodyears-virtual-meeting-creates-issues-shareholder)
AT&T would not allow shareholders to speak. (AT&T investors denied a dial-in as annual meeting goes online, https://whbl.com/2020/04/17/att-investors-denied-a-dial-in-as-annual-meeting-goes-online/1007928/) The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (BK) said it adopted written consent in 2019 after 45%-support for a written consent shareholder proposal. This compares to the 43% BMY shareholder votes in 2020. BK’s action was taken a year before the pandemic put an end to the vast majority of in-person shareholder meetings – perhaps forever. Now more than ever shareholders need to have the option to take action outside of a shareholder meeting and send a wake-up call to management, if need be, since tightly controlled online shareholder meetings have the potential to dramatically reduce shareholder engagement and management transparency.