The Washington Post

Occupy the shareholder meetings!

Even though their tents were cleared out of the parks this winter, the Occupy spirit has re-emerged with a vengeance this spring.

Vikram Pandit, CEO of CitiGroup (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Much of the major action is happening from the inside. UK fund manager Hermes--which represents a group of pensions and other investment funds--has launched a protest against Deutsche Bank’s executive compensation policies, lobbying other shareholders in the German bank to reject a resolution approving the board’s performance, the Financial Times reports.

This comes on the heels of a major shareholder revolt at Citigroup, where they voted down a $15 million pay package for CEO Vikram Pandit this month--with strong, surprising support with Citi’s employee-stockholders as well. Similar sentiments are bubbling to the surface at Wal-Mart and Verizon, where employee-shareholders also want more say on pay, as Gretchen Morgenson pointed out over the weekend.

Some of the action is also happening from the outside: Today in San Francisco, for example, a group of shareholders, together with other progressive activists, are scheduled to protest Wells Fargo’s annual shareholder meeting under the Occupy banner of “the 99 percent.” They’re uniting under a hodgepodge of demands that include everything from halting foreclosure proceedings and protesting predatory lending practices to divesting from private prisons.

Still, it may be a while yet before banks and other publicly held corporations embrace major reforms. Hermes, for instance, is lobbying to change a vote that’s non-binding. But it’s a reminder that the anti-bank populism that inspired the Occupy movement hasn’t dissipated; it was simply lying in wait for the next opportunity to surface.


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