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Berkshire Hathaway allows activists to make phone calls on May 1 According to Reuters

© Reuters. Shareholders gather to hear billionaire investor Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway Inc’s annual shareholder meeting in Omaha

By Ross Kerber

(Reuters) – Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE 🙂 Inc reversed the process on Friday and told an activist group they could present a shareholder proposal remotely for the company’s May 1 annual meeting. , according to the new guidelines of the US securities regulator.

Warren Buffett’s insurance and investment company has traditionally attracted thousands to its grand annual meeting in Omaha, but like many of America’s leading corporations during the coronavirus pandemic, have asked for Investors log in to remote meetings instead of attending them directly.

However, the move online has prevented many groups of active investors from having shareholder resolutions that often animate meetings. Some have been muted through technology or said that they can only present solutions directly despite the health risks.

That was the case in Berkshire for As You Sow of Berkeley, California, which filed a measure calling for the company’s subsidiaries to report on their diversity and inclusion efforts, and told to send a representative arrives in Los Angeles, where a number of directors and staff members. will be gathered for the live webcast.

When asked about the situation on Friday, Berkshire CFO Marc Hamburg told Reuters by e-mail:

“We want As You Sow to present their proposals at the Los Angeles shareholder meeting venue. However, we will give As You Sow an opportunity to provide a recording to play at the meeting. as a means of presenting to their shareholders.

As You Sow welcomes this decision. Chairman Danielle Fugere told Reuters the organization “does not want to risk the health of others, so we are reassured that the company has changed course”.

When Berkshire Hathaway contacted the group, they cited new guidelines from the US Securities and Exchange Commission, As You Sow said.

As You Sow is in the group of activists and investors, on April 5 asked the SEC to extend last year’s guidelines to allow for the virtual presentation of proposals, which some companies appear to be Prohibited this year, timely for shareholders spring 2021. season reunion.

“From the point of view of pandemic safety, it is not yet time to ask for individual appearance proponents,” the letter states.

In a statement posted on its website on Friday, the SEC said that due to concerns about COVIDs, companies are encouraged to “give proponents to their shareholders or their representatives the ability to present proposals. their export through alternative means, such as over the phone “during the 2021 Season.

The agency also said proponents who were unable to attend meetings will have a good reason to rework their proposals at a later time.

Hamburg did not respond to questions about how it would handle other groups of shareholders.

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